İrem UZUN -TDO- A former Mexican defense minister was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on drug and money laundering charges, accused of taking bribes in exchange for permitting a cartel known for wholesale violence to operate with impunity in Mexico, federal prosecutors said Friday.

According to documents released by U.S. federal prosecutors in New York on Friday, prosecutors accuse Mexican former defense minister General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda of conspiring to produce and distribute heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in the U.S. between December 2015 and February 2017.  “In exchange for bribe payments, he permitted the H-2 Cartel – a cartel that routinely engaged in wholesale violence, including torture and murder – to operate with impunity in Mexico,” the indictment read.  The prosecution said the evidence against the retired general, nicknamed “The Godfather”, included thousands of Blackberry messages between Cienfuegos and cartel members that were intercepted by the authorities.

The Mexican government confirmed to the BBC that General Cienfuegos was arrested on a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warrant. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the arrest "serves to illustrate that the main problem in Mexico is corruption". “I always said that it wasn’t just a crisis, but a decadence that we were suffering from,” López Obrador said during his daily news conference.

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