The American justice system intercepted thousands of communications through BlackBerry Messenger, where General Cienfuegos helped the H-2 Cartel.
MEXICO (Bloomberg) – Salvador Cienfuegos rarely traveled to the United States, according to the U.S. prosecutors
According to prosecutors handling former National Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos case, arrested in Los Angeles, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency intercepted thousands of BlackBerry Messenger communications. The messages show the former official helped the H-2 Cartel in several ways, including locating shipping for its drug shipments and even introducing the cartel’s top leaders to other Mexican government officials willing to help the group in exchange for bribes.
Cienfuegos also warned the H-2 Cartel (heirs to the Beltran Leyva Cartel) about ongoing U.S. law enforcement investigations into the group and its use of cooperating witnesses informants. Ultimately, this resulted in the murder of a cartel member because the group’s senior leadership incorrectly believed the individual was helping U.S. police, prosecutors said.
As a result, the cartel was able to expand its reach to Mazatlan and Sinaloa’s entire state, according to the United States. The group was also able to operate without significant interference from the Mexican military and exported thousands of kilos of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana into the United States, prosecutors said.
At the time of Cienfuegos’ involvement with the H-2 Cartel, the organization was led by Juan Patrón Sánchez, prosecutors said.
Sánchez died in 2017 in a gunfight with the Mexican military. The H-2 Cartel is a successor to the Beltrán Leyva Organization, which was once led by Héctor Beltrán Leyva and operated in Nayarit’s states Sinaloa.
“It is an unfortunate situation that a former secretary of defense is arrested and accused of links to drug trafficking,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said during his morning press conference on Friday. The armed forces “are pillars of the Mexican state.”
Cienfuegos rarely traveled to the United States, prosecutors said. The last time he was in the country was in March 2019, five months before the Brooklyn grand jury indicted him.
In a related case in September 2019, Edgar Veytia, a former Nayarit attorney general, was sentenced to 20 years in U.S. prison after pleading guilty in Brooklyn federal court to international conspiracy manufacture and distribution of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana involving the H-2 Cartel. The United States said Veytia also used his position as the top law enforcement officer in his region to aid and abet drug trafficking organizations in Mexico.