AMLO’s new legislation provides cover to transnational criminals, puts Mexico-US ties at stake
Tensions rise between US and Mexico as latter introduced a new law, which could be called as a reaction to the detention of former Mexican defence minister Salvador Cienfuegos in Los Angeles in October. The new law would directly impact the US-Mexico ties as it bars the officials charged it drug or corruption charges to be tried outside Mexico or in United States. It also imposed a level of censor over the transfer of information or personnels to the US anti-drug agents and the FBI.
As per the new law, Mexican federal, state and local officials could provide information to “foreign agents” including FBI agents or Drug Enforcement Administration offices only with the permission from a high-level security panel in Mexico. Besides, the Mexican officials would need to submit a written report carrying the details of the meetings to the Foreign and Public Security ministries. During the meeting, Mexican government also demanded that a representative of the Foreign Ministry would be part of the sessions. Critics argued that it would affect investigations of various cases including drug-trafficking, money-laundering, kidnapping and other crimes.
The legislation bill, which was tabled by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, already had a high chance of getting cleared as AMLO’s party holds majority in Congress. On Wednesday night, the bill got passed in the Senate and would soon be cleared by the lower house too.
“It will dramatically change the way Mexican law enforcement and U.S. law enforcement cooperate,” said Ana María Salazar, a Mexico City-based security analyst who worked in drug enforcement under the Clinton administration. “The extreme requirements will probably paralyze the relationship.”
Many believed that the authorities took the decision following the high-profile corruption and money laundering case against former Mexican defense secretary, Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos. Mexican government announced its decision after US justice department dropped case against the former Mexican official.
Last month, the US Justice department announced that it would dismiss all the charges against Cienfuegos and return him to Mexico in order to maintain cross-border peace and cooperation between the two counties. Many reports hinted that Mexico threatened to expel the Drug Enforcement Administration’s regional director and agents, if Cienfuegos was not sent back.
US Federal police arrested former Mexican defense minister Cienfuegos at Los Angeles International Airport on account of drug trafficking and money laundering in October. Federal prosecutors issued a letter supporting his detention, which read, “The defendant abused that public position to help the H-2 Cartel, an extremely violent Mexican drug trafficking organization, traffic thousands of kilograms of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States, including New York City.” It added, “In exchange for bribe payments, he permitted the H-2 Cartel — a cartel that routinely engaged in wholesale violence, including torture and murder — to operate with impunity in Mexico”.