By Nélida Tello
Former Mexican Secretary of Defense Salvador Cienfuegos was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. The military general assisted the H-2 Cartel, extending protection to the cartel as well as military equipment to transport drugs.
Cienfuegos served 48 years in the Mexican military and was appointed Secretary of Defense between 2012-2018, by former president Enrique Peña Nieto. As the highest ranking military official, Cienfuegos was the direct advisor to Peña Nieto during the War on Drugs.
The War on Drugs was spearheaded by US imperialism through the Merida Initiative under former president Felipe Calderon and continued under Peña Nieto. During his term, homicides reached historic highs as cartels militarized and military operations expanded.
The war did not stop the drug flow into the US or drug production in Mexico. Instead, US imperialism utilized the war to repress and control the Mexican people and regulate the drug market in both countries.
Cienfuegos used the military to carry out attacks against rival cartels, inform H-2 Cartel leaders of sting operations, and use military equipment to transport drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana.
The H-2 Cartel formed out of a fraction in the Sinaloa Cartel run by the Beltran-Leyva brothers. Hector Beltran- Leyva, commonly referred to as “El H” and his second in command, Patrón Sánchez, or “H-2”, ran the drug cartel. In 2014, “H-2” took over the cartel after Hector was arrested and strategically developed an alliance with General Cienfuegos.
On Tuesday, Cienfuegos was charged with four counts of drug trafficking and money laundering. He was ordered to stand trial in New York and his bond was denied since his prominent status and ties to Mexico made him a flight risk.
Cienfuego’s arrest comes 10 months after the arrest of Genaro Garcia Luna in Texas, which was directly tied to the arrest of Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Garcia Luna was charged for accepting bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel, conspiracy to import and distribute drugs, and giving false statements. He was the Security Minister under Calderon and oversaw the operations to combat organized crime in Mexico.
The abuse of power and corruption of officials like Cienfuegos and Garcia Luna are no surprise to the people of Mexico. The arrest only confirms what the people already know: cartels and government officials are two sides of the same coin.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has claimed that the arrests of Cienfuegos and Garcia Luna are examples of the old corrupt order falling, but he is wrong. US imperialism continues to profit from the drug market economically and pushes drugs to stop people from rising up, and it remains the principal enemy of the Mexican people and the people of the world. Purging corrupt officials is not enough. Imperialism itself must be taken out.
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