This is tawdry international politics. Or the incompetence of American law enforcement. Or just plain stupid.
I wrote about this in an earlier blog post. This is the update.
Last month the Justice Department cut loose former Mexican Defense chief Salvador Cienfuegos. He had been charged in Federal Court for taking bribes in exchange for protecting cartel leaders.
The move to drop charges and Cienfuegos back to Mexico, where he likely will never face prosecution, was a political chess move by DOJ to protect American law enforcement assets in Mexico.
The Americans say “foreign policy considerations” were a factor. That’s for sure.
So, what happened? The Mexican Congress immediately passed a law restricting American Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) activity in Mexico.
The 50 year war on drugs has been a travesty. This is just another example.
Excerpted from The Wall Street Journal 12.21.2020
Explosive U.S. drug-trafficking allegations against Mexico’s former defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos rely largely on circumstantial evidence, diminishing the chances that the Mexican government could bring a case against him to trial or could convict him in a Mexican court if it did, according to people in both countries familiar with the case.
The surprise arrest, which angered civilian and military officials in Mexico who thought the U.S. overstepped its bounds, was followed by a bigger shock when the U.S. dropped the charges just over a month later and returned Gen. Cienfuegos to Mexico.
U.S. officials said foreign-policy considerations, including law-enforcement cooperation between both countries, played a big role in the decision.
They passed the results of their investigations to their Mexican counterparts and let Mexico decide whether to investigate and possibly charge the general.
U.S. federal prosecutors insisted in court hearings and filings that the evidence was strong against the retired general, who played a leading role in Mexico’s counternarcotics strategy when he headed the armed forces.
Justice Department spokeswoman Nicole Navas said the agency dismissed the case because of foreign-policy concerns, “not because of any perceived weakness in the case.”
Despite U.S. hopes that releasing Gen. Cienfuegos would safeguard security cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico, Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador this month pushed a law through the nation’s Congress that U.S. officials say could cripple bilateral law-enforcement ties.
The law, which requires strict regulation of meetings between local, state and federal Mexican officials and foreign agents, would regulate the activities of the 50 Drug Enforcement Administration agents stationed in Mexico.
The law “can only benefit the violent transnational criminal organizations and other criminals that we are jointly fighting,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said earlier this month.