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Mexico clears ex-defense chief U.S. had accused of cartel ties

MEXICO CITY — Mexico is not going to pursue prison prices towards former defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos, the legal professional common’s workplace mentioned on Thursday, a choice that raised criticism and comes regardless of U.S. prosecutors’ accusations he collaborated with drug lords.

Cienfuegos, a member of former President Enrique Peña Nieto’s authorities, was arrested in October at Los Angeles worldwide airport and accused by U.S. prosecutors of collaborating with one of Mexico’s strongest drug cartels.

Some Mexicans noticed the choice to exonerate Cienfuegos as one other instance of long-standing impunity for the navy.GDA / AP file

In November, a federal choose granted a U.S. authorities request to drop drug charges against Cienfuegos and return him to Mexico, which the United States hoped would restore belief within the neighbors’ severely strained safety ties.

The Mexican legal professional common’s workplace mentioned in an announcement an evaluation of the proof confirmed Cienfuegos “never had any encounters with members of the criminal organization investigated by U.S. authorities, nor did he maintain any communication with them, or carry out acts tending to protect or help said individuals.”

Mike Vigil, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chief of worldwide operations, expressed his dismay on the choice.

“This is a very big stain on the Mexican justice system,” Vigil mentioned in a tv interview with Mexican broadcaster Milenio.

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Vigil mentioned Ciefuegos’ case can be a mannequin for corruption and impunity sooner or later.

Reuters was not in a position to contact Ciefuegos.

His arrest within the United States adopted a multi-year investigation that used wire faucets to trace a navy determine who traffickers referred to as “El Padrino,” or The Godfather.

Investigators concluded “El Padrino” was Cienfuegos and had helped drug traffickers transfer tonnes of narcotics.

However, the legal professional common’s workplace mentioned there was no proof Cienfuegos had “used any equipment or electronic means, or that he had issued any order to favor the criminal group identified in this case.”

Scrutiny of Cienfuegos’ wealth and tax obligations uncovered no proof that he had obtained unlawful earnings, it mentioned.

These have been among the many causes authorities had determined to not pursue prison prices towards Cienfuegos, a former common, the legal professional common’s workplace added.

Some Mexicans noticed the choice as one other instance of long-standing impunity for the navy.

“Unfortunately, we see that the army is still untouchable,” mentioned Nadin Reyes, whose father went lacking in 2007 after final being seen at a navy base.

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