The arrest of General Salvador Cienfuegos, Mexico’s former defence minister, in Los Angeles last month was a coup for America’s narcotics agents. They believed he would be jailed for the rest of his life for helping some of the world’s most violent criminals smuggle vast quantities of drugs into America.
Last Wednesday, however — in a twist worthy of the Netflix drama Narcos: Mexico — a US federal judge acting on the orders of the attorney-general abruptly dropped the case against Cienfuegos, 72, and put him on a plane home to Mexico.
The general was defence minister under President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018. When he was seized after arriving at Los Angeles airport for a family holiday, the US Drug Enforcement