Mexico’s ex-defence minister arrested in the US

A former Mexican defence minister has been arrested in the US.

Gen Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was detained at Los Angeles airport, Mexico’s foreign minister announced in a tweet late on Thursday.

The Mexican government has confirmed to the BBC that he was arrested on a warrant issued by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

The foreign minister said he expected to be informed of the charges against Gen Cienfuegos in the coming hours.

No further details have yet been released.

Gen Cienfuegos, 72, served as minister from 2012 to 2018, under President Enrique Peña Nieto.

His role as the most senior member of the armed forces meant he played a key role in Mexico’s war on drugs.

But there were accusations of complicity between the state and the country’s powerful drug cartels throughout Mr Peña Nieto’s presidency, reports BBC Mexico correspondent Will Grant.

This is not the first time a former Mexican minister has been arrested in the US.

Last December, former Security Minister Genaro García Luna was charged with taking bribes from a drugs cartel.

Mr García Luna, who was Mexico’s top security chief from 2006 to 2012, is currently on trial on New York, accused of allowing the Sinaloa cartel of “El Chapo” Guzman to operate in Mexico in exchange for millions of dollars.

He denies all the charges against him.

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