Mexico and DEA agreed to improve anti-narcotics intelligence sharing
After constant tensions over the Cienfuegos case, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Mexican authorities held a high-level meeting to improve bilateral cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking cartels. "Both delegations agreed to establish as a bilateral priority to improve the mechanisms to share intelligence against organized crime," the Mexican Foreign Ministry and the Federal Security Secretariat highlighted in a joint communiqué.
This meeting is the first between the anti-drug agency and the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during the administration of his US counterpart, Joe Biden. Just this past June 30, Mexican officials met with members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to strengthen bilateral agreements on security issues. Now it was the DEA's turn.
After the arrest, release, and exoneration of General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, former Secretary of Defense in Mexico, the López Obrador administration maintained a critical stance towards the activities of foreign agencies in the country, particularly the DEA. He then promoted a reform to regulate agents from other nations, who are obliged to submit a monthly report on their encounters with Mexican officials or else they will be expelled.
The so-called Cienfuegos Law was interpreted as retaliation for detaining, without informing AMLO's government, the former head of the Army under Enrique Peña Nieto. The text decrees that foreign agencies must operate in Mexico for a defined period of time and with prior authorization.
During a press conference, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) presented intelligence sharing and current trends in drug consumption and production stemming from Mexican cartels.
At the same time, the reform allows for the possibility that foreign agents may be criminally sanctioned under the Mexican legal framework since they will not have "any immunity in case of committing crimes or infractions", as well as for infringing the normative provisions that prohibit them from exercising functions reserved to Mexican authorities.
At the July 1 meeting, both delegations discussed collaboration to reduce the harm caused by drug consumption and trafficking in the region. Hence, information sharing is fundamental. "Criminal activities in Mexico and the United States are deeply interconnected. What happens on one side of the border directly affects the other country," said Ricardo Mejia Berdeja, Undersecretary of Public Security.
Prior to the meeting with the FBI, violence reduction strategies and the strategy against illicit arms trafficking, promoted by Mexico as a priority, were discussed. The different topics on the agenda were guided by the mutual respect that characterizes the bilateral relationship, as well as from a regional and co-responsibility perspective.
Both countries are seeking to renew the Merida Initiative, an agreement that emerged in 2007 to counter threats from criminal organizations, including drug cartels. The United States has provided its ally's security forces with technical support and equipment to strengthen the justice system and reduce corruption. It is an anti-drug plan devised under the George W. Bush administration, providing not only resources but also technology, intelligence, and training. However, over the years, narcotics trafficking and violence in Mexico have not diminished, on the contrary.