Mexico Publishes Heavily Edited Probe of Exonerated General

Mexico Publishes Heavily Edited Probe of Exonerated General
MEXICO CITY - One day after Mexico angered U.S. officials by publishing an entire 751-page U.S. case file against former Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos, the Mexican prosecutors who exonerated him released their own version—but with so many pages wholly blacked out it was almost impossible to tell what they’d found.

The report released Sunday by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office included a 226-page stretch with every page blacked out, followed shortly thereafter by a 275-page stretch of blacked-out pages.

In the few sections with less redacting, all names and images were blacked out.

The officials appeared to be struggling to control the damage to the justice system's reputation after prosecutors took just five days to completely absolve retired Gen. Cienfuegos of U.S. allegations, backed by years of investigation, that he aided drug traffickers in return for bribes.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Saturday dismissed the U.S. case as “fabricated,” His government released the documentation U.S. prosecutors sent when they released Cienfuegos as a diplomatic concession to Mexico and sent him to face investigation at home.

The U.S. Department of Justice said releasing the full report of evidence violated a legal assistance treaty and questioned whether the U.S. could continue to share information.

That further embittered security relations strained by the Mexican government’s decision to restrict U.S. agents and remove their immunity even after Cienfuegos was returned home rather than facing trial in the United States.

The president said that while many Mexicans see U.S. courts as “the good judges, flawless … in this case, with all respect, those that did this investigation did not act with professionalism.”

In the newly released Mexican report, what little was visible appeared to have involved asking the army to investigate whether the accusations were credible and relying on what Cienfuegos officially declared in income.

For example, one of the few legible documents is a report by an army communications officer (name redacted) saying that no Army BlackBerries had been officially assigned to Cienfuegos or anyone else.

The 751-page file that U.S. authorities shared with Mexico consists largely of intercepted BlackBerry messenger exchanges between since-slain traffickers describing dealings with a person they identify as Cienfuegos, often referring to him by the nickname “The Godfather.”

López Obrador has leaned heavily on the military for a wide range of projects well beyond security. His government apparently reacted to military outrage at Cienfuegos’ arrest, complaining they had not been briefed adequately on the case by U.S. officials beforehand.