U.S. drops drug charges against Mexican general, clearing way for transfer
Unexpected move by the U. S. Justice Department has thrown the US Mexico relationship into the spotlight. Last month, former Mexican General Salvador sent Frago Cepeda, who was arrested in Los Angeles and face charges of drug trafficking and corruption. Today, though a U. S District Court judge allowed prosecutors to drop all charges against sent way goes opening the door for him to return to Mexico and allowing Mexican officials to investigate. Walk us through this eyebrow raising move. The world's Jorge Valencia joins us from Mexico City, Jorge What was the Justice Department accusing sent way goes off remind us prosecutors were saying that he was using his position as the former defense minister of Mexico. He was the head of the Defense Ministry from 2012 to 2016. He said he was using that position to allow an organized crime group known as H two to traffic drugs to United States without interference. Now prosecutors appear to have a very solid case. They spent more than a year on this. So it was a very big surprise when none other than William Barr, the U. S. Attorney general himself issued a statement yesterday saying that prosecutors were going to drop all charges and return General Sam Fly goes to Mexico Mexico's foreign relations Minister Marcelo and gave public remarks about this yesterday. Would out here is saying that he doesn't see this as a path toward impunity, but rather his way in which the Department of Justice is showing respect to Mexico and showing respect to Mexico's military. This feels like such a 1 80, especially considering sent for egos was arrested. Just last month s O. What kind of reaction has there been? Shock? Bewilderment? Uh, I mean, for people who are involved in efforts to fight organized crime here in Mexico. They're very surprised by this because this isn't just about the charges that Cienfuegos was facing in District court in New York, but also about other crimes that many people believe that the government was involved in while he was the defense minister. Most notably the case of 43 University students who went missing in the southern state of Guerrero and were never found. I spoke with Mike the hell he is the former director of international operations at the D E. A. And he was based here in Mexico for more than 10 years, quite frankly, in my 31 year career with the Drug Enforcement Administration I had never seen anything like this. This is outlandish and the most repulsive thing that I've ever seen in the history of U. S. Justice. Marco. One important piece of context to have is that Mexico's courts are notoriously challenged. Some estimates find that nine out of 10 crimes in Mexico go unpunished. So when you have somebody as powerful as the former defense minister general of Cienfuegos if he actually did commit any of the crimes that he was being accused of in the United States There is a good chance that he could walk away without ever facing trial. Are there any theories as to why the U. S. Justice Department would drop these charges? I mean drug trafficking. Mexico remains a high priority for us national security. There seems to be more to the story. I should be clear that it is speculation. But the prevailing theory is that by returning General Cienfuegos to Mexico, the Trump administration is returning a favor to the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez. Laura Laura. Mexico has done a lot of work to prevent people over the past couple of years from migrating from Central America toward the United States. It's very difficult to tell because by releasing General Xin flag goes, one question is answered. But many, many, many more questions are being asked the world's Jorge Valencia in Mexico City. Thank you very much for this. You're welcome, Marco.