Former Mexican Secretary of National Defense Salvador Cienfuegos was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard tweeted Thursday evening.
Ebrard cited information from U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau and wrote he expected to be informed of the charges within the next few hours.
Cienfuegos was arrested by U.S. authorities at the request of the Drug Enforcement Administration and will face drug and money-laundering charges, a federal law enforcement official told The New York Times.
Cienfuegos was defense minister from 2012-18.
“There has never been a minister of defense in Mexico arrested,” former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda told The New York Times.
“The minister of defense in Mexico is a guy that not only runs the army and is a military man, but he reports directly to the president. There is no one above him except the president.”
The 72-year-old is a retired Mexican Army general and the first high-ranking military official to be taken into custody in the U.S. in connection with drug corruption.