Former Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos has been charged with drug trafficking and money laundering while in government, documents released by federal prosecutors in New York on Friday said.
Prosecutors accuse Cienfuegos, a mainstay of Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration from 2012-2018, of conspiring to produce and distribute “thousands of kilos” of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana in the United States between December 2015 and February 2017.
He “abused” his position “to help the H-2 cartel, an extremely violent Mexican drug trafficking organization,” according to the documents.
“In return for bribe payments, he allowed the H-2 cartel – a cartel that routinely deals with wholesale violence, including torture and murder – to operate with impunity in Mexico,” the indictment states.
Prosecutors said the evidence against the retired general nicknamed “The Godfather” included thousands of Blackberry messages between Cienfuegos and cartel members intercepted by authorities.
The indictment was filed by the New York City District Attorney’s Office on August 14, 2019, but was not released until Friday.
The charges can be punished in the United States with a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum life sentence.
Cienfuegos will answer three cases of drug trafficking and one of money laundering in a Los Angeles court later Friday.