“The Los Angeles Consul will inform me of the charges in the next few hours. We will provide the consular assistance to which he is entitled, ”Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard wrote on Twitter.
Mexican investigative magazine Proceso, citing unnamed sources from the US Department of Justice, reported that the arrest was the result of a lengthy corruption investigation involving drug traffickers.
The Wall Street Journal, citing an anonymous senior Mexican government official, said Cienfuegos was arrested at the behest of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
There was no immediate confirmation from US authorities.
Cienfuegos, 72, headed the Defense Ministry under former President Enrique Pena Nieto.
As Minister of Defense, Cienfuegos was a powerful figure in Mexico’s war on drugs in which the military fought cartels across the country. Several former senior Mexican officials in the “war on drugs” have been implicated in drugs.
Under Cienfuegos, the Mexican military was accused of frequent human rights violations, but so were its predecessors and its successor in post.
The worst scandal in Cienfuegos’ tenure concerns the military murders of suspects in 2014 at a grain warehouse. In June 2014, soldiers killed 22 suspects in the warehouse in the town of Tlatlaya.
While some died in an initial shootout with the army patrol – in which a soldier was injured – a human rights investigation later showed that at least eight and possibly up to ‘to a dozen suspects were executed after their surrender.
‘We don’t like it’
More than 296,000 people have been murdered since the government militarized the fight against the drug cartels in 2006, according to authorities, who say most of the killings are linked to gang violence.
Cienfuego had previously complained that his troops were to take part in the country’s war on drug trafficking, saying the military was not suited for the post.
“We didn’t ask to be here. We don’t like it. We have not studied how to hunt criminals, ”he said.
“Our function is something else and it has been transformed into something abnormal. We do things that do not correspond to our training because there is no one else to do them ”, declared the Minister.
Cienfuegos is the second former Mexican minister detained in the United States.
Former Public Safety Minister Genaro Garcia Luna was arrested in Texas in December 2019 for accepting huge bribes to allow the notorious Sinaloa cartel to send drugs to the United States.