U.S. Identifies Mexico’s Former Defense Secretary as Cartel Godfather

Mexico's Defense Secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda gestures as U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens during a reception ceremony in Mexico City, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. Mattis is meeting with senior Mexican government officials in the capital on the eve of Mexico's national Independence Day. At right is Secretary of …
AP File Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

U.S. federal prosecutors accuse Mexico’s former secretary of defense and some of his top aides of working with drug traffickers for years. The allegations followed the highly publicized arrest in California by U.S. federal agents and the subsequent court appearance of the former general. Prosecutors unsealed a five-count indictment against him.

Salvador Cienfuegos, a career Mexican Army General who served as Mexico’s secretary of defense under former President Enrique Pena Nieto, was known in the criminal underworld as “El Padrino” or The Godfather. He is charged with being a close ally of a faction of the Beltran Leyva Cartel known as H-2 — named after their late leader Juan Francisco Patron. As Breitbart Texas reported, federal authorities arrested Cienfuegos in California. A U.S. District Judge in New York unsealed the criminal indictment against him and additional information related to the case.

According to documents submitted by prosecutors, Cienfuegos allowed his associates with the Beltran Leyva Cartel (H-2) to operate with impunity in Mexico as they moved ton-quantities of cocaine and other drugs into U.S. cities. That criminal organization operated cells in Nevada, Ohio, Minnesota, North Carolina, and New York. In exchange for cartel bribes, Cienfuegos would keep the Mexican military from carrying out actions against his allies including helping them move into new territories such as Mazatlán, Sinaloa. He also allegedly targeted actions against his rivals. The allegations also claim that the former top military official leaked sensitive U.S. law enforcement information to his allies and introduced top leaders to other corrupt officials.

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com

Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and senior Breitbart management. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at bdarby@breitbart.com.     

Tony Aranda from Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project contributed to this report

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