MEXICO CITY — A former Mexican defense minister was arrested on Thursday night after arriving at Los Angeles International Airport with his family, according to the Mexican government. He is the first high-ranking military official to be taken into custody in the United States in connection with drug-related corruption.

The former official, Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, who was Mexico’s defense minister from 2012 to 2018, was arrested by the United States authorities at the request of the Drug Enforcement Administration and will face drug and money-laundering charges, according to a federal law enforcement official.

The news stunned many in Mexico.

General Cienfuegos served under President Enrique Peña Nieto at a time when homicides spiked to historic levels and drug cartels waged war.

“This is a huge deal” said Alejandro Madrazo, a professor at CIDE, a university in Mexico City. “The military has become way more corrupt and way more abusive since the war on drugs was declared, and for the first time they may not be untouchable — but not by the Mexican government, by the American government.”

This is a developing story.

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