Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Mexico Says No More US Trials for Corrupt Officials
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 3 years ago on
November 20, 2020

Share

MEXICO CITY — Mexico said Thursday it will no longer allow officials accused of corruption to be tried in the United States, a move that could end a decades-old tradition in which most of Mexico’s high-profile drug-trafficking and corruption cases have been tried north of the border.

However, the extent of the new policy was unclear, and officials suggested some extraditions could continue.

There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials on Mexico’s bombshell statement, but it came one day after the U.S. dropped a high-profile drug trafficking and money laundering case against a former Mexican defense secretary.

The announcement suggests the fallout from the arrest of former Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos — which enraged Mexico when the Justice Department announced it last month — is far broader than previously known.

“Whoever is culpable according to our laws will be tried, judged and if applicable sentenced in Mexico, and not in other countries, and that is the basis which has been encouraged with this agreement,” said Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard. “That is what has been discussed, what has been agreed and what has been maintained with U.S. authorities.”

U.S. officials have given no hint that the agreement went beyond the Cienfuegos case, and the White House did not respond to questions about the matter or Ebard’s comments Thursday.

Ebrard’s statement was not clear on whether Mexico would continue extraditing accused drug traffickers to face charges in U.S. courts, as it has done often in the past, or whether he was only referring to officials accused of collaborating with drug gangs.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice requested that drug trafficking and money laundering charges against Cienfuegos be dismissed and that he be returned to Mexico in the interest of maintaining cross-border cooperation. That decision came after reports that Mexico had threatened to expel the Drug Enforcement Administration’s regional director and agents.

Cienfuegos Was Returned to Mexico Wednesday and Was Promptly Released

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador denied that Thursday, saying, “We didn’t threaten anybody. All we did was express our disagreement.”

“We did not threaten to expel the agents. We said we want to be informed and for the cooperation agreements to be respected,” López Obrador said, adding, “I think it is an injustice for innocent people to be put on trial.”

“You cannot allow foreign agencies to try Mexicans if there is no proof,” said López Obrador, who depicted it as a national sovereignty issue. “Just because they are other countries’ legal institutions, does that make them the owners of justice and rectitude.”

Cienfuegos was returned to Mexico Wednesday and was promptly released.

Ebrard vowed that the investigation into Cienfuegos would be “worthy of Mexico’s prestige and dignity.” But the entire process of notifying Cienfuegos of the investigation and processing him back into the country took only about a half hour, far less time than the average traveler spends in customs and immigration.

Ebrard appeared to be aware of the damage to Mexico’s reputation if Mexican prosecutors, as many expect, fail to bring their own charges against Cienfuegos.

“It would be very costly for Mexico, to have decided to have this conversation with the United States, to achieve the dropping of charges against a former cabinet secretary for the first time in history, … for him to be returned to Mexico, and then later do nothing,” Ebrard said. “That would be almost suicidal.”

The full scope of Mexico’s pressure was not clear and U.S. officials were vague about what led them to drop charges in a case they had celebrated as a major breakthrough just last month, when federal agents nabbed the retired general in Los Angeles.

Two officials, one Mexican and one American, said Mexico’s tactics involved threatening to expel the Drug Enforcement Administration’s regional director and agents unless the U.S. dropped the case. But they said that was only part of the negotiation. They would not elaborate.

A Judge in New York City Approved the Dismissal of Charges on Wednesday

The officials asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.

A judge in New York City approved the dismissal of charges on Wednesday, capping a lightning-fast turnaround in a case that drew loud protests from top Mexican officials and threatened to damage the delicate relationship that enables investigators in both countries to pursue drug kingpins together.

Cienfuegos, 72, was secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in 2019. He was accused of conspiring with the H-2 cartel in Mexico to smuggle thousands of kilos of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana while he was defense secretary from 2012 to 2018.

Prosecutors said intercepted messages showed that Cienfuegos accepted bribes in exchange for ensuring the military did not take action against the cartel and that operations were initiated against its rivals. He was also accused of introducing cartel leaders to other corrupt Mexican officials.

Mexican officials complained that the U.S. failed to share evidence against Cienfuegos and that his arrest came as a surprise. It also caused alarm within Mexico’s military, which has played a crucial role in operations against drug cartels.

Mexico depicted Cienfuegos’ release as a victory for the country’s sovereignty and its demand to be treated as an equal partner by the United States, a striking position given that most think that Mexico’s court system — and corrupt officials — are the weak links in the country’s fight against drug trafficking.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

DON'T MISS

City Council Finally Gives New NW Fresno Costco a Green Light

DON'T MISS

Prop 47 Reformers Send Nearly a Million Signatures to Sacramento

DON'T MISS

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

DON'T MISS

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

DON'T MISS

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

DON'T MISS

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

DON'T MISS

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

DON'T MISS

Savannah Bananas Dominate Social Media, Sell Out Stadiums Nationwide Including Fresno

DON'T MISS

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

UP NEXT

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

UP NEXT

US and UK Issue New Sanctions on Iran in Response to Tehran’s Weekend Attack on Israel

UP NEXT

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

UP NEXT

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

UP NEXT

Netanyahu Dismisses Calls for Restraint, Says Israel Will Decide Iran Attack Response

UP NEXT

Storm Dumps Record Rain and Floods Dubai’s Airport

UP NEXT

Myanmar’s Ousted Leader Suu Kyi Moved From Prison to House Arrest Due to Heat, Military Says

UP NEXT

NPR Editor Suspended Over Claims of Network’s ‘Progressive Worldview’

UP NEXT

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

UP NEXT

New Recruiting Programs Put Army, Air Force on Track to Meet Enlistment Goals. Navy Will Fall Short

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

12 hours ago

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

13 hours ago

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

13 hours ago

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

14 hours ago

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

14 hours ago

Savannah Bananas Dominate Social Media, Sell Out Stadiums Nationwide Including Fresno

16 hours ago

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

17 hours ago

Big Names in Rap, Christian Music, and Comedy Headline Must-See Weekend Entertainment

17 hours ago

US and UK Issue New Sanctions on Iran in Response to Tehran’s Weekend Attack on Israel

17 hours ago

Will State AG Rob Bonta Jump Into 2026 Race for CA Governor?

18 hours ago

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

Fresno got a $10.9 million piece of California grant money to shelter people living in encampments. The money from California’s $192 m...

11 hours ago

11 hours ago

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

11 hours ago

City Council Finally Gives New NW Fresno Costco a Green Light

11 hours ago

Prop 47 Reformers Send Nearly a Million Signatures to Sacramento

Crypto the WonderDog Show
12 hours ago

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

13 hours ago

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

13 hours ago

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

14 hours ago

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

14 hours ago

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend