Is US-Mexico anti-drug intelligence cooperation about to end?
April 30, 2013 2 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Some senior American officials believe that the anti-drug intelligence cooperation between the United States and Mexico is in its closing stages, following tens of thousands of deaths in the past decade. Intelligence cooperation between the two countries reached unprecedented levels in the post-9/11 era, following the establishment of the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). In the past decade, cooperation between Mexico’s Center for Research and National Security (CISEN) and ODNI, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency, resulted in what some observers call “unprecedented bilateral action” directed against Latin American narcotics cartels. This arrangement culminated under the administration of Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón, when the CIA —and to a lesser extent the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Security Agency— were given unprecedented access to Mexican territory and civilian communications networks. However, in an extensive article published Sunday, The Washington Post says the close operational connection between Mexican and US intelligence agencies is quickly winding down. Citing interviews with over “four dozen current and former US and Mexican diplomats, law enforcement agents, military offices and intelligence officials”, the paper suggests that Mexico City is wary about Washington’s involvement in the so-called ‘war on drugs’. The major change on the Mexican side, says The Post, occurred last December with the inauguration of Mexico’s new President, Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has returned to power after 13 years in opposition. Under Nieto’s administration, the Mexican security establishment, worn out by over 60,000 deaths and as many as 25,000 forced disappearances in the past few years, is intent on shifting its priorities. Instead of focusing on so-called ‘beheading operations’ —arresting or otherwise neutralizing the leadership of drug cartels— it has decided to stabilize the situation by containing —rather than eliminating— the operations of drug networks. According to Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexico’s Ambassador to the US, who spoke to The Post, “the objective of fighting organized crime is not in conflict with achieving peace”. The paper suggests that some US officials are worried that an unofficial truce may be struck between the Mexican government and the drug cartels that currently control large chunks of the country. The Mexican government has allegedly already notified Washington that it plans to establish five “regional intelligence fusion centers” to coordinate the activities of a brand-new 10,000-strong “super-police force”. It is said that American intelligence officers will not be allowed to work inside these fusion centers, and Mexico City has rejected US requests to help train the new police force. Consequently, US officials are threatening to stop sharing intelligence with Mexican officials unless they are given access to the new fusion centers. The Post said it contacted the CIA about the article, but received no response.