U.S. ambassador says no strings attached in clearing, returning former general to Mexico

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Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, Enrique Pena Nieto

FILE – In this Sept. 16, 2016 file photo, Defense Secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, left, and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, salute during the annual Independence Day military parade in Mexico City’s main square. U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, formally dropped a drug trafficking and money laundering case against Gen. Cienfuegos, a decision that came after Mexico threatened to cut off cooperation with U.S. authorities unless the general was sent home. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Christopher Landau, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, said the release of former Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos from U.S. custody happened with no conditions or expectations.

Cienfuegos, who was Mexico’s defense minister under the previous administration, was arrested in October upon landing at LAX in Los Angeles for reportedly having ties to drug cartels in Mexico.

Landau was also critical of the way Cienfuegos’ arrest was made without notifying the Mexican government.

“When Gen. Cienfuegos was detained it obviously caused a huge impact in Mexico and back then U.S. Attorney General William Barr was very committed to relations with Mexico, he looked into how this happened, and he took the decision to return Gen. Cienfuegos,” Landau said.

According to Landau, it’s Mexico’s decision whether to prosecute the general.

“It’s important to point out, we returned General Cienfuegos without conditions because the attorney general reviewed the case and decided this case is Mexico’s responsibility to investigate in the first place,” he said.

Landau added there needs to be understandings between both countries in regard to how to handle this type of case in the future to avoid “this type of surprises.”

“I believe the attorney generals in our countries don’t always know or understand the international framework and don’t necessarily understand all the repercussions of their decisions,” said Landau, who will leave his post as ambassador next week.

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