A federal judge on Wednesday agreed to drop drug trafficking and corruption charges against a former Mexican defense minister, granting an extraordinary request that prosecutors said was made out of foreign policy concerns and driven by Attorney General William Barr.
“Although these are very serious charges against a very significant figure…I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the government’s position,” the judge, Carol B. Amon of the United States District Court in Brooklyn, said. She spoke during a short hearing before agreeing to dismiss charges against Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, who was accused of taking bribes in exchange for protecting cartel leaders.
Gen. Cienfuegos will soon be escorted back to Mexico by the U.S. Marshals to face possible prosecution.
Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme offered few new glimpses into the unusual decision, saying only that the U.S. interest in maintaining its relationship and law enforcement partnerships with Mexico outweighed the Justice Department’s interest in pursuing the case, and acknowledged that Mr. Barr made the decision himself in consultation with Mexican officials.
Write to Sadie Gurman at firstname.lastname@example.org