Judge Agreeing to Dismiss Case Against Mexico Ex-Defense Minister
Mexico’s former defense minister arrived back in the country Wednesday night after a U.S. judge dismissed drug-trafficking and corruption charges against him at the request of U.S. prosecutors, who said the unusual move was motivated by foreign-policy concerns and driven by Attorney General William Barr.
The decision to drop charges against Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, who had been accused of taking bribes in exchange for protecting cartel leaders, came after Mexico threatened to cut off cooperation with U.S. authorities unless the general were returned home, top Mexican officials said.
One U.S. official also said Mexico threatened to expel U.S. drug enforcement agents from the country, but it wasn’t known whether that alone drove the decision.
“Although these are very serious charges against a very significant figure, and the old ‘bird in hand’ adage comes to mind, I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the government’s position,” said U.S. District Judge Carol B. Amon during a hearing in Brooklyn before she agreed to dismiss the indictment.
Gen. Cienfuegos, who was arrested in Los Angeles in October at the request of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, flew home on a chartered plane and went to his family home, his attorney Edward Sapone said.