Former Mexican defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos -- who was detained after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport with his family -- is under investigation in the U.S. for drug trafficking and money laundering, two Mexican federal sources told Reuters on Friday.
Cienfuegos, who was arrested Thursday at the request of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, was defense minister throughout the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto, who left office in 2018.
The morning after the stunning arrest, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador -- who has based his political career on denouncing corruption -- slammed the previous administration and pledged to suspend anyone inside his government found to be implicated in the charges.
"All those involved in this other matter, of General Cienfuegos and who are acting in the government, in the Ministry of Defense, will be suspended, withdrawn. And if it is the case, they will be put before the relevant authorities. We won't cover up for anyone."
Some Mexican officials were privately shocked at the detention of Cienfuegos in Los Angeles airport, worrying it was an unprecedented U.S. intervention against a symbol of Mexican national security.
As defense minister, Cienfuegos was a key figure in Mexico's 'drug war' in which the military was used to battle cartels across the country.
Several of Mexico's former top-ranking 'drug war' officials have been implicated in crimes.
Cienfuegos’ arrest came less than a year after the detention of Genaro García Luna -- once considered a leader in Mexico’s efforts to combat drug trafficking as security minister during the administration of President Felipe Calderón.
Garcia Luna is on trial in New York on suspicion of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel once run by drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, the same cartel he was tasked with combating.