A new law in Mexico adds restrictions to how foreign agents, like those of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, can operate while in Mexico.
The measure is an effort by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to asset control over law enforcement in Mexico, but critics, including former security officials, say it endangers both cooperation and lives.
MEXICO – Mexico’s government recently approved a new amendment to its National Security Law restricting “all foreign agent operations in Mexico” and removing their diplomatic immunity, potentially ending cooperation with the US.
The amendment requires all foreign agents on Mexican soil to share all information they gather with Mexican authorities and requires any Mexican public official to submit a written report of any phone call, text message, or other communications from a foreign agent.
The new bill promises to keep secret any information shared with Mexico, although it doesn’t offer any detail on how. It will also now allow agents to carry weapons in Mexico with a permit from the Ministry of Defense.
A high-level foreign intelligence official in Mexico, who asked his name not to be published, said this new law could end all cooperation with the US, leaving Mexico less equipped to go after drug traffickers.
“This would be like criminalizing US agents as spies in Mexico,” the official said, calling it “a simulation” that isn’t applicable under current law governing diplomatic relations.
“Mexico’s government cannot remove immunity to foreign agents under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the official added.
The bill is an unprecedented attempt by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to assert control over national security issues, and it has already raised alarm in the US.
“What this new law is doing is endangering all of the informants working in Mexico. You have to know that these informants are not only drug cartel people, but Mexican officials, diplomats, politicians … and with this law they will either keep in silence or get killed,” said former US Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor Hector Berrellez.
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