In stunning move, U.S. to drop drugs case against ex-Mexican defense minister
By Drazen Jorgic and Mark Hosenball MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors will drop drug charges against ex-Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos and turn over the investigation to Mexico, saying 'sensitive' foreign policy considerations outweighed the interest in pressing the case. The surprise decision to dismiss the charges in the politically explosive case was announced in a joint statement on Tuesday from the U.S.
By Drazen Jorgic and Mark Hosenball
MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors will drop drug charges against ex-Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos and turn over the investigation to Mexico, saying "sensitive" foreign policy considerations outweighed the interest in pressing the case.
The surprise decision to dismiss the charges in the politically explosive case was announced in a joint statement on Tuesday from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Mexico's attorney general's office.
"The United States has determined that sensitive and important foreign policy considerations outweigh the government's interest in pursuing the prosecution of the defendant," prosecutors from the U.S. Eastern District of New York said in a court document unsealed on Tuesday.
U.S. authorities said the 72-year-old ex-general, accused of using his power to protect a faction of the Beltran-Leyva drugs cartel in Mexico while ordering operations against its rivals, had agreed to voluntarily return to Mexico if the U.S. case against him was thrown out.
Cienfuegos, who served as head of the military and was former President Enrique Pena Nieto's top defense official from 2012 to 2018, pleaded not guilty earlier this month to the charges following his October arrest in the Los Angeles airport.
After a hearing on Wednesday in a Brooklyn federal court, where the judge is expected to sign off on the prosecutors' request, Cienfuegos will likely be transported back to Mexico in the custody of a U.S. Marshal, the court documents show.
The arrest of Cienfuegos, who for years worked closely with U.S. counterparts on highly sensitive cross-border criminal matters, put a severe strain on security ties between the two countries.
The Mexican government was not forewarned of the investigation or arrest, which angered Mexican sensitivities at the highest level. His arrest shocked Mexico's security establishment, given his close ties to a range of current senior officials.
In retaliation, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador publicly threatened to review cooperation agreements that establish how U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents operate in the country.
In remarks to reporters shortly after the announcement, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard described the dropping of the U.S. case as unprecedented and a sign of respect for both Mexican sovereignty as well as the Mexican military.
Ebrard said the decision meant that security cooperation between the two nations could proceed.
He said the Department of Justice had provided Mexican authorities with evidence in the case and committed to support the investigation led by Mexican authorities.
Neither U.S. prosecutors or defense lawyers for Cienfuegos could immediately be reached for comment.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Drazen Jorgic in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Tom Brown and Rosalba O'Brien)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
ADDIS ABABA/NAIROBI (Reuters) - Ethiopia's military is fighting battle-hardened troops in the northern Tigray region, threatening stability around the Horn of Africa. Here are some facts on the forces: THE NATIONAL MILITARY: THE ENDF The Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) has around 140,000 active personnel, the vast majority of them in the army, according to the Janes security data group. Its troops have been tested by Islamist militants in Somalia and rebel groups in Ethiopia's border regions, as well as a two-year border war with Eritrea followed by an 18-year standoff that only ended in 2018.
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the government will impose tighter measures to fight with the coronavirus and impose partial lockdowns on weekends across the country. Speaking after the cabinet meeting, Erdogan also said all schools will remain closed until the year-end and all restaurants will only work by delivery
BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday his government in coming days will name countries that are importing wood illegally extracted from the Amazon. Addressing a BRICS summit of big developing economies, Bolsonaro said Brazilian police had developed a way of tracking wood exported from the Amazon using isotopes.