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U.S. charges Mexico’s ex-defense secretary with drug smuggling

Mexico’s former defense secretary is facing charges of using his position to help one of the most notorious drug cartels operate with impunity while using the Mexican military to hurt their rivals, according to U.S. prosecutors.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, have charged Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, 72, with accepting bribes from the H-2 cartel based in Nayarit and Sinaloa, Mexico, in exchange for his services.

Cienfuegos, who served as defense secretary under then-President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018, was taken into custody Thursday at Los Angeles International Airport.

The H-2 cartel is described by prosecutors as having distributed thousands of pounds of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and marijuana.

“In Mexico, the H-2 Cartel trafficked in hundreds of lethal firearms and committed countless acts of horrific violence, including torture and murder, in order to protect against challenges from rival drug trafficking organizations, fight for territory and silence those who

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