Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was arrested in Los Angeles but returned to Mexico, which began its own investigation.
The US Department of Justice announced that it was dropping the charges against Mexico’s former defense minister, Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, and returns it to Mexico after his arrest in Los Angeles in October made the tension in relations between Washington and Mexico City.
US Attorney General William Barr said in a joint statement with Mexican attorney General Alejandro Hertz Manero that the US Justice Department will seek to drop charges against Cienfuegos after Mexico launched its own investigation.
However, Mexico did not commit to bringing charges after the investigation was completed.
“In recognition of the strong partnership between Mexican and US law enforcement agencies, and to demonstrate our United front against all forms of crime, the US Department of Justice has decided to seek the removal of criminal charges in the US against former Minister Cienfuegos so that his activities can be investigated in accordance with Mexican law and, if necessary, he would be charged,” they said.
“At the request of the Attorney General’s office of the Republic, the US Department of justice, following the Treaty governing the exchange of evidence, has transferred evidence in this case to Mexico and is committed to continuing to cooperate on this framework in support of the investigation conducted by the Mexican authorities,” the joint statement said.
Cienfuegos, who served as Mexico’s defense Minister from 2012-2018, was arrested on a drug enforcement Administration warrant upon arrival at Los Angeles international airport.
Earlier this month, he pleaded not guilty to charges that he helped the H-2 cartel.