On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that officials with the Drug Enforcement Agency are outraged after Attorney General William Barr convinced a federal judge to dismiss the case against Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, a Mexican general accused of helping cartels traffic drugs into the United States.
“Cienfuegos, who served as Mexico’s Secretary of National Defense from 2012 to 2018, was arrested last month on drug trafficking and money laundering conspiracy charges upon flying into Los Angeles International Airport,” reported David Shortell. “In court documents, prosecutors alleged that Cienfuegos had been protecting and promoting the work of the violent H-2 cartel in exchange for bribes, citing thousands of intercepted Blackberry messages, including ones exchanged between Cienfuegos and a senior leader of the group.”
“On Tuesday night, Barr released a lengthy statement co-signed by his Mexican counterpart announcing the decision to seek the dismissal of the case and to return Cienfuegos to Mexico ‘so that he may be investigated and, if appropriate, charged, under Mexican law,’” said the report. “The top prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York told the court Wednesday that the decision to abandon the prosecution was made by Barr personally.”
Historically, Mexican prosecutors have frequently refused to pursue links between their government officials and organized crime, making it highly unlikely Cienfuegos will be charged by investigators in his own country.
“The move was met with deep frustration by some investigators involved in the case, two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the matter told The Daily Beast,” said the report. “One of the officials said that certain senior leaders of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which helped build the investigation into Cienfuegos, had not been consulted ahead of the decision, and warned that the fallout could erode future investigations into the cartels and their ties to corrupt Mexican officials.”
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