MEXICO CITY (AP) — Former Mexican defense secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, who led the country’s armed forces for six years under ex-President Enrique Peña Nieto, has been arrested at Los Angeles International Airport, Mexico’s top diplomat said Thursday.
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard did not say on what charges Cienfuegos was detained. He wrote on his Twitter account that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Landau had informed him of the general’s arrest.
Ebrard wrote that Mexico’s Consul in Los Angeles would be informing him about the charges “in the next few hours,” and that Cienfuegos had a right to receive consular assistance. He did not specify if the general was arrested at the airport arriving or leaving the country.
Cienfuegos served from 2012 to 2018 as secretary of defense under Peña Nieto. He is the highest-ranking former Cabinet official arrested since the top Mexican security official Genaro Garcia Luna was arrested in Texas in 2019. Garcia Luna, who served under former President Felipe Calderón, has pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges.
Cienfuegos is 72 years old and has retired from active duty. Mexico’s Defense Department had no immediate reaction to the arrest.