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U.S. Arrest of Former Mexican Defense Minister on Drug Charges Poses Challenges for Future Counter-Narcotics Cooperation
American Journal of International Law  (IF3.091),  Pub Date : 2021-04-19, DOI: 10.1017/ajil.2021.14


In October 2020, the United States arrested former Mexican Defense Secretary General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda on drug conspiracy charges, accusing him of accepting bribes to aid a Mexican cartel in evading law enforcement and transporting drugs into the United States. Cienfuegos's arrest sparked diplomatic protests from Mexico, which negotiated to gain Cienfuegos's release before exonerating him and publicizing the U.S. investigation file in what the United States called a breach of the countries’ mutual legal assistance treaty. The incident also prompted Mexico to pass a new law curtailing cooperation with foreign agents and potentially imperiling the long-standing U.S.-Mexico alliance in the fight against cross-border drug trafficking.