The DEA’s infiltration of the Sinaloa Cartel without state permission amounts to espionage, the Mexican president says.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commonly known as AMLO, has excoriated the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for infiltrating the Sinaloa Cartel without his permission, accusing Washington of “abusive interference” at a press conference on Monday.
“There can’t be foreign agents in our country, no,” AMLO insisted, explaining that while the US and Mexico could share information, Mexico alone will decide who can “intervene.” Anything else, he said, is an unacceptable violation of Mexican sovereignty.
Only after the safety of Mexicans – from both the ultraviolent cartels and DEA operatives – is guaranteed can the matter of assisting the US in its drug war be taken up, he said. “Cooperation yes, submission no.”
The DOJ announced last week the indictment of 28 senior figures in the Sinaloa Cartel on charges that include drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering, murder, extortion, kidnapping, and torture. Prosecutors boasted that the DEA had “proactively infiltrated” the cartel and its offshoot, the Chapitos (‘little Chapos’, named after the offspring of Sinaloa drug lord El Chapo), and had been following its movements for a year and a half, all without informing the Mexican government, which it continued to accuse of not doing enough to stop the flow of illicit fentanyl into America.
AMLO has repeatedly denied that Mexico is responsible for manufacturing fentanyl, pointing the finger at Asian chemical suppliers – plus the weaknesses in American society that have given rise to the demand for the synthetic opioid, which caused more than 100,000 fatal overdoses last year. On Monday, he added that the US is foolish to “blindly trust” its DEA agents when “it is proven that many of them… maintain, or maintained, links with organized crime.”
He was specifically referring to the DEA’s former chief for Mexico, Nicholas Palmieri, who quietly retired last year when it emerged that he had become too friendly with prominent cartel lawyers. Meanwhile, the DEA’s entire foreign operations are currently under an external review ordered in response to the conviction of former agent Jose Irizarry on money laundering charges. Irizarry named dozens of senior DEA agents as his partners in crime, describing an operation that spanned three continents and feasted on the fruits of the cartel millions it laundered.