Mexico’s military holds the lead role in fighting organized crime and has worked closely with U.S. anti-drug agencies. In 2016, while Cienfuegos was secretary, Mexican marines captured Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the world’s top traffickers. Guzman was extradited and convicted of drug charges last year in New York. He is serving a life sentence.
Cienfuegos is the highest-ranking Mexican official to be detained in the United States since the arrest last December of Genaro Garcia Luna, on allegations of taking millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa cartel. Garcia Luna, who served as minister of public security from 2006 to 2012, is expected to go on trial in New York in coming months. He has pleaded not guilty.