Posted: Monday, December 7, 2020. 12:57 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The Associated Press reports that Mexico has channeled its residual anger over the treatment of one of its former government officials into a proposal to restrict U.S. agents of law enforcement in Mexico and remove their diplomatic immunity.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador proposes to require Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents to hand over all information they collect to the Mexican government, and require any Mexican officials they contact to submit a full report to Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department.
The proposal states strictly that all diplomatic immunity – full in the case of the top agent and limited or technical for others would be removed, and that all their information must be handed over to Mexican authorities.
Former DEA chief of international operations Mike Vigil told the AP it wasn’t going to happen because of “endemic corruption” and the chances of leaks to those being investigated. In 2017, the commander of a Mexican police intelligence-sharing unit that received DEA information was charged with passing the DEA data to the Beltran Leyva drug cartel in exchange for millions of dollars.
Vigil added that 90 percent of information sharing goes between the DEA and Mexico, inspiring many counter-drug successes.
Former Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos was arrested in Los Angeles in October, after being secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in 2019. He was accused of conspiring with the H-2 cartel in Mexico to smuggle thousands of kilos of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana while he was defense secretary from 2012 to 2018.
Prosecutors said intercepted messages showed that Cienfuegos accepted bribes in exchange for ensuring the military did not take action against the cartel and that operations were initiated against its rivals. He was also accused of introducing cartel leaders to other corrupt Mexican officials.
But American prosecutors dropped their case in October, sending Cienfuegos back to Mexico to face indictment there, which so far has not happened.
In November, Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard raised eyebrows in the U.S. when he said that “whoever is culpable according to our laws will be tried, judged and if applicable sentenced in Mexico, and not in other countries.” Mexican officials later said that would not affect extraditions.
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