In what can only be called a federal judicial miracle, retired Mexican General Salvador Cienfuegoes is being set free in the United States and permitted to return to Mexico. Just last month, Cienfuegos was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport when he was visiting LA on vacation. The charges? That when he was serving as Mexican Defense Minister, which is the second highest position within the Mexican government, Cienfuegos was conspiring with Mexican drug lords in return for bribes.
Cienfuego’s arrest generated the standard drug war hoopla in the mainstream press to which we have all become accustomed during the last several decades. The Washington Post called it a “turning point” in the war on drugs (one of many “turning points” in the drug war over the years). The New York Times stated, “The news not only casts a pall over Mexico’s fight against organized crime, but also underscores the forces of corruption that touch the highest levels of the government.”
But then yesterday, U.S. officials suddenly announced that they had decided to drop the charges and permit Cienfuegos to return to Mexico.
What gives with that? Don’t these guys want to “win” the war on drugs? How do they expect to do that if they are dropping drug war charges against people at the top who they say are involved in the drug trade?
The speculation is that the Mexican government put so much pressure on U.S. officials to drop the charges that the U.S. finally had to relent. People are saying that Mexico was threatening to ban the DEA from operating in Mexico.
But there is another possible explanation for the sudden dismissal of charges: The CIA. It’s entirely possible that Cienfuegos played hardball by promising to reveal CIA complicity in the drug trade if he were ever bought to trial. Given the overwhelming power of the CIA within the federal governmental structure, it would not have been difficult for the CIA to bring the necessary pressure to bear to have the charges against Cienfuegos dismissed.
If you haven’t seen the excellent Amazon Prime series The Last Narc, I highly recommend it. I have written about it here and here. The series revolves around the 1985 kidnapping, torture, and execution of DEA agent Kiki Camarena in Mexico.
For a long time, it was believed that the reason Mexican drug lords targeted Camarena was because they suspected he was getting dangerously close to establishing complicity between the drug lords and officials in the highest reaches of the Mexican government.
Because no one had been brought to justice in the Camarena case, the DEA put a DEA agent named Hector Berrellez on the case. Berrellez and his team went into Mexico and began locating witnesses who were involved in the Camarena kidnapping, torture, and execution who were willing to talk.
Not only did the witnesses point to high Mexican government officials, they also pointed to the CIA as being complicit in what happened to Camarena. In fact, the witnesses stated that they saw a CIA agent present in the room in which Camarena was being tortured and actually participating actively in his torture.
Why would the CIA involve itself in the kidnapping, torture, and execution of a DEA agent? It is believed that not only was Camarena close to establishing complicity of high Mexican officials in the drug trade, he was also close to establishing CIA complicity in the drug trade. Thus, he needed to be stopped by both the Mexican government and the U.S. government.
Needless to say, in response to Berrellez’s investigation, there has been no federal grand jury impaneled to investigate and indict the CIA or any of its officials in the kidnapping, torture, and execution of a DEA agent. Neither has there been a congressional investigation. The CIA is simply too powerful to permit that sort of thing to take place.
Yes, it’s possible that Mexico was able to bring pressure on U.S. officials to drop the drug charges against Cienfuegos by threatening to stop the DEA from operating in Mexico. It’s also possible Cienfuegos threatened to reveal CIA complicity in the drug trade if he were ever brought to trial. In my opinion, the latter is a much better explanation for the quick and sudden dropping of drug charges against former Mexican Defense Minister Cienfuegos. Regardless, it all goes to show how utterly corrupting the drug war is and why it should be ended immediately.