On thursday, Mexican foreign minister tweeted that, Gen Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was detained at Los Angeles airport.
According to the Mexican government who has confirmed to the BBC that he was arrested on a warrant issued by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
The foreign minister said he expected to be informed of the charges against Gen Cienfuegos in the coming hours.
No further details have yet been released.
Gen Cienfuegos a 72 year old and has served as a minister from 2012 to 2018, under President Enrique Peña Nieto.
His role as the most senior member of the armed forces meant he played a key role in Mexico’s war on drugs.
But there were accusations of complicity between the state and the country’s powerful drug cartels throughout Mr Peña Nieto’s presidency, reports BBC Mexico correspondent Will Grant.
Earlier this year, one of the former president’s closest advisers was also extradited to Mexico from Spain on corruption charges.
Emilio Lozoya, the former boss of Mexican state oil company Pemex, is accused of taking $10m (£8m) in bribes from a Brazilian construction firm that has admitted paying off Latin American politicians. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Mr Peña Nieto has not been implicated.
Mexico’s current leader, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is seeking to lift the immunity of former presidents from prosecution.
Gen Cienfuegos is not the first former Mexican minister to have been arrested in the US.
Last December, former Security Minister Genaro García Luna was charged with taking bribes from a drugs cartel.
Mr García Luna, who was Mexico’s top security chief from 2006 to 2012, is currently on trial on New York, accused of allowing the Sinaloa cartel of “El Chapo” Guzman to operate in Mexico in exchange for millions of dollars.
He denies all the charges against him.