Historically, going back forty years and longer, the Mexican Army managed a lot of the drug trafficking through the country. Each Mexican State had an army general in charge of it and the traffickers kicked up to the army (SEDENA). They tended to keep a lid on the murders, and the tourist cities were safe enough to encourage los Yankees to come and spend their hard earned money.

That changed…obviously.

Mexico’s former defense minister (captioned above) is facing four drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges in U.S. federal courts, related to the manufacture and distribution of heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances, according to an indictment made public Friday.

The ex-minister, retired Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, was detained Thursday at the Los Angeles International Airport. The news was a bombshell in Mexico, where the military remains one of the most trusted institutions.

(Los Angeles Times) “His arrest has raised the startling possibility that top Mexican military officials have secretly been working with drug traffickers during most of the U.S.-backed offensive against cartels that began in 2006.

The public-security minister in the first six years of that effort, Genero Garcia Luna, is now awaiting trial in New York on allegations of accepting bribes to help the Sinaloa Cartel. He has pleaded not guilty. Cienfuegos served as defense minister in the following administration, from 2012 to 2018.

“We had this underlying construct of a fight of good against evil, a clear line of confronting them as monolithic blocks,” said Falko Ernst, the senior Mexico analyst for the International Crisis Group. “With Garcia Luna, that comes crashing down” – and the arrest of Cienfuegos further undermines that narrative, he said.

Mexico is the No. 1 source of heroin and methamphetamines reaching the United States, and a major corridor for cocaine and fentanyl (which originates in the People’s Republic of China). Since 2007, the U.S. government has provided the country with about $3 billion in security and justice aid through the Merida Initiative.

One of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) campaign promises was to stop the war on drugs in Mexico, deferring it to the US as an American domestic consumption problem. AMLO was generally good to his word, backing the Mexican army (SEDENA) and navy (SEMAR) down from their roles in narcotics enforcement.

Unfortunately for Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, the efforts of the Trump Administration against high level traffickers, continues.


  1. How are you supposed to run a flourishing criminal enterprise when the President of the United States can’t be bought?

    No wonder all the money and effort is going towards electing Slo Joe and Spread Eagle.

    • When President Trump took office, the RINOs and Progs lamented that the gravy train dried up, and it has to a great extent. The executive office of the President of the United States is not for sale. The President donates his salary quarterly. And there are no table scraps trickling down the way it was during the Obamanation.

      The Military Industrial Complex is still making money but not nearly as much as they did when there was a war underway. They’re not happy. And when they are unhappy, the generals they own are not happy either.

      Biden is bought and he’s a known commodity. A lot of people (including narcos) are comfortable with that.

  2. Wow. A shocker. That Mexico’s Army’s leadership is corrupt. Gee, we’ve known this since the days of Santa Ana, and it really hasn’t gotten any better since. Just better managed and controlled, as mostly the generalissimos have understood the value of PR in relationship to the gringos up north.

    Now? Since Communist China has been attacking the USA with chemical weapons (and why isn’t that considered as casus belli for really harsh treatment of the Chicoms?) through the Mexican Army, we should consider the Mexican Army as pretty much a series of corrupt criminal organizations right off the bat. No more goodness from Uncle Sugar unless we see serious signs of cleanup.

    It was known in 2001 when I started at the local drug unit that the MexArmy was corrupt as F. Known by local mopes on the street, too. The ATF knew it, the DEA knew it, the Fibbies, the State Department, hell, even the EPA knew it (yes, we dealt with the EPA in the drug world. They were actually kind of happy that Mexico was taking over meth production as it lessened the number of meth labs the EPA had to clean up.)

    So, LL, how clean are the Mexican Marines?

  3. After many years of working with SEDENA and SEMAR I am of the opinion that it is the Army that is rife with corruption. The Marines much less so as they are a much more tightly integrated and smaller force. Adm. Siu was (don’t know if he is still in charge) one of the good guys, and while we were always graciously received by Gen Cienfuegos and his predecessors, with whom my old company did considerable business, one could tell there was tension underlying operations. On the one hand the narcos had to be controlled and on the other key persons were left untouched. No easy solution. A tightly sealed and controlled border is a start. Drying up demand is the tougher nut to crack.

  4. SEMAR has a few trustworthy actors at the top who I know and have worked with. To the best of my knowledge there were three, (total of three) who felt that each other could be trusted, and I think that was the case.

    In Mexico, there are a lot of large families and there is ALMOST always a narco in the family. One of the three captioned above, had a cousin called El Redondo – so crooked that he was round. Pressure is often brought to bear by relatives on otherwise honest people and because it’s a matriarchal society, a mother or a grandmother had a lot of influence and a lot of corruption comes in through that door.

    The US has a large fusion center where everyone is polygraphed regularly, etc. and the actors therein are supposed to be honest. Not so according to the three, and they would know.

    Outside of those three in SEMAR, there is Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CISEN), the national intelligence agency. There are people there who I believe to be trustworthy, but even there, caution is advised if you don’t know the ground game.

  5. This actually surprised people in Mexico?

    I could see “disappointed”, but I’m flabbergasted by “surprised”.


    • There is an unreasonable, unfounded and inexplicable faith that many Mexican people hold for the army. Don’t ask me to explain it.

  6. Yep, hasn’t ‘changed’ per se since we were chasing druggies down there in the 70s. CISEN did ‘work’ with EPIC, for forms of work… If you wanted to coordinate with ground forces, it was the Marines, not the Army or Federales.

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