From August 16, 2019, the United States ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, knew about the drug trafficking charges against the general Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, but could not reveal them due to the confidentiality of the Grand Jury.
“I was aware of the Cienfuegos accusation last year, actually I found out the first day I arrived in Mexico as an ambassador. And I said, ‘Oh my gosh, This is a big ticking time bomb, but I couldn’t even discuss it with my military attaché at the embassy because it was grand jury information!“, said the North American official.
The arrest warrant against Cienfuegos Zepeda was issued on August 14 of last year by Judge Vera M. Scanlon, that is to say, two days before Landau arrived in Mexico. It took 14 months for the former Secretary of National Defense (Sedena) was arrested at the California airport when he was going to spend a few days with his family.
In all that time, the American ambassador learned of the three conspiracy charges to manufacture, import and distribute drugs, plus a money laundering charge that the head of the Sedena of Enrique Peña Nieto was accused. However, he couldn’t even tell his circle of trust.
Landau revealed this information, after being questioned during an online seminar organized by the Baker Institute at Rice University, which was titled The Mexico-United States relationship: a conversation with the Honorable Christopher Landau (The U.S.-Mexico Relationship: A Conversation with the Honorable Christopher Landau), aired this October 28.
As an ambassador, Landau considered that the arrest of Cienfuegos Zepeda could hamper binational cooperation relations on security mattersBecause Mexicans will be wary if they don’t know about cases like this. He explained that a lawyer has a particular view on the case, but as an ambassador, had to ignore the entire relationship with Mexico, which goes beyond.
With that noted about the arrests of the former governor of Chihuahua, César Duarte, and the former Secretary of Security with Felipe Calderón, Genaro Garcia Luna, imprisoned for ties with him Sinaloa Cartel. Although he noted that it is difficult to know to what extent they should share about the accusations.
He added that the accusations must be proven before the Court, but it is “very sad and depressing” to know that officials of this level are denounced for crimes of corruption or drug trafficking. I consider that the lack of a strong rule of law and the prevalence of impunity were among the main obstacles in Mexico.
In consecuense, criticized that the US authorities’ strategy is focused on capturing specific targets, when narcotics trafficking is more systemic and, for the sake of going for the bosses, structural elements are left aside.
“You cut off the head of the snake and instead of killing it, suddenly the snake has five heads”, He exemplified about just going against the leaders. He emphasized that the US authorities must be more creativeWell, even when the head of an organization is captured, another will always be waiting to fill the vacancy.
He mentioned that this has been repeated on multiple occasions, but has not penetrated how agents handle cases. This did not justify dropping the priority targets, but attention should be paid, for example, to chemical precursors for synthesizing fentanyl and methamphetamine.
“Focusing all efforts on arresting a particular person should not cause us to lose sight of other elements”, He asserted. He said that while success can be measured in extraditions or arrests, that should not be the exclusive strategy.
By last, called for limiting the flow of weapons to Mexico, especially Barret Caliber 50 rifles, with which criminals wander the streets. He compared the Culiacán scene last year with those seen in war zones like Somalia or Iraq..
On the morning of this Thursday, October 29, Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary of Foreign Relations, said that Mexico complained in writing to the United States that it had not shared information about the Cienfuegos Zepeda case.. Verbally, the protest was made a week ago, while the document was turned over on October 28, the same day that Landau revealed that he had known about the charges against the general from last year.
“We have made known to the United States our deep dissatisfaction that this information has not been shared with our country”Ebrard commented in the morning conference of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Christopher Landau landed at 09:45 a.m. on August 16, 2019 at Mexico City International Airport from Washington. After signing the distinguished visitors book He offered a brief message to the media where he commented that he came with his hand extended. Prior to his diplomatic post, the constitutional lawyer worked in Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, signature that Cienfuegos Zepeda hired for its defense.