Because the two males labored for various Mexican administrations and are being accused of aiding totally different drug cartels, it’s not possible to dismiss a attainable nexus between the Mexican authorities and arranged crime as a short-lived drawback linked to a single president or a single drug gang.
As a substitute, taken collectively, prosecutors are prone to supply an unprecedented window into suspected institutional rot at excessive ranges of Mexico’s safety institution.
Each trials will happen in U.S. federal courts over the approaching months. For now, it’s unclear how lengthy america has recognized concerning the alleged felony ties of the 2 former officers, each of them as soon as American interlocutors.
Garcia Luna has denied the costs. Cienfuegos has not made a public remark for the reason that arrest. Each are being held with out bail.
The USA has lengthy relied on Mexico’s cooperation in stemming the move of medicine to the border. However, on the identical time, U.S. officers have complained concerning the systemic corruption that stymied that partnership.
For many years, it was largely low-level Mexican officers who have been charged with having hyperlinks to drug cartels, regardless that U.S. officers suspected the issue existed on the high, too. Since 2008, the U.S. has spent $1.6 billion in gear and coaching for Mexican safety personnel.
“You by no means knew who you may belief there,” stated Carl Pike, a retired agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s particular operations division who spent important time in Mexico. “We at all times had the mind-set that once we shared info, we simply assumed it was going to be compromised.
Native police, for instance, have been recognized to work informally with the cartels working of their swath of the nation. Mexican regulation enforcement brokers might be paid off to not eradicate a poppy subject, or to permit the secure passage of medicine to the border. Mexican officers would generally tip off the DEA to such low-level corruption instances — “as a form of courtesy,” stated Pike.
However on the highest ranges of Mexican authorities, males like Garcia Luna and Cienfuegos have been thought of by many to be above the fray — a part of an orbit of presidency officers and safety consultants who moved freely between Mexico and Washington, opining on find out how to cease the move of medicine. In 2012, after leaving authorities, Garcia Luna gave a lecture on the Wilson Heart based mostly on his guide, “A New Mannequin for Safety in Mexico.”
The guide boasted concerning the reforms made inside the public safety system and federal police throughout his tenure. Garcia Luna was recognized for selling anti-corruption measures, like “confidence checks” for native and state police, ostensibly to weed out any officers with cartel loyalties.
“At face worth, you’ll have thought he was one of many saviors of Mexico,” Pike stated.
Cienfuegos was invited to offer a speech in 2016 at Mexico’s most celebrated army parade, standing subsequent to then-president Enrique Peña Nieto.
“Loyalty can’t be based mostly on deception. The place honor is prioritized, there isn’t a room for lies,” Cienfuegos stated. “When there’s a lack of honor, loyalty turns into complicity.
The subsequent 12 months, he accompanied John Kelly, then the secretary of homeland safety, on an overflight above poppy fields within the state of Guerrero, alongside the Pacific coast south of Mexico Metropolis.
The aim of the go to was to debate issues associated to safety and the combat in opposition to organized crime,” stated Mexico’s information launch on the go to.
Rise and fall
In 2018, the William J. Perry Heart for Hemispheric Protection Research bestowed its highest award on Cienfuegos for his “development and cooperation of the worldwide safety atmosphere, and to selling sustainable capability within the Americas.”
However, based on court docket filings launched Friday, throughout these years Cienfuegos “in change for bribe funds, assisted the H-2 cartel in quite a few methods” — referring to the as soon as highly effective cartel with a presence alongside Mexico’s west coast.
“Due partly to the defendant’s corrupt help, the H-2 cartel carried out its felony exercise in Mexico with out important interference from the Mexican army and imported 1000’s of kilograms of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into america,” the indictment stated.
Between 2012 to 2018, when Cienfuegos was protection minister, america was trying to enhance a as soon as tense relationship with Mexico’s army, which for many years had been extra reluctant to work with america than different elements of Mexico’s authorities. Underneath Cienfuegos, that recalcitrance appeared to fade.
In 2016, the pinnacle of america northern command, Adm. William E. Gortney, spoke glowingly about that progress.
“This 12 months, the military-to-military relationship between america and Mexico reached unprecedented ranges of coordination,” Gortney stated. “At this time we’re strategic companions.”
In the meantime, the indictment in opposition to Cienfuegos says, he had been “warning the H-2 cartel concerning the ongoing U.S. regulation enforcement investigation into the H-2 cartel.”
Mexico’s present president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has described corruption as an issue in earlier administrations, however not in his personal authorities. But Mexican officers say quite a few present safety officers more than likely keep connections to organized crime.
Requested if he anticipated performing members of the safety institution to be indicted, one senior Mexican official responded: “Definitely.”
“This simply confirms that the criminals can solely act and flourish with the complicity of high-level authorities,” stated the senior official, who spoke on the situation of anonymity due to his position within the present authorities.