MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on his Friday morning news conference that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had “fabricated” drug trafficking accusations against his country’s former defense minister.
López Obrador said there was a lack of professionalism in the U.S. investigation and suggested there could have been political motivations behind U.S. authorities’ arrest of Cienfuegos at Los Angeles International Airport in October, noting that the investigation had been ongoing for years. Still, the arrest came shortly before U.S. presidential elections.
Then his government published what he said was the entire case file provided by U.S. authorities when they sent him back to Mexico.
The 751-page file included transcripts of intercepted Blackberry messenger exchanges that were marked: “Shared per court order, not for further distribution.” So far, it is unclear if the release of records would affect other court cases in the U.S.
López Obrador said there was a lack of professionalism in the U.S. investigation and suggested that there could have been political motivations behind U.S. authorities’ arrest of Cienfuegos at Los Angeles International Airport in October, noting that the investigation had been ongoing for years. Still, the arrest came shortly before U.S. presidential elections.
The U.S. government quickly responded that it reserved the right to prosecute Cienfuegos in the future. López Obrador’s comments threatened to get the security relationship with the incoming administration of Joe Biden off to a rough start.
López Obrador declared that many Mexicans have confidence in the U.S. justice system, seeing them as “the good judges, flawless, those don’t make mistakes, those are honest.”
“In this case, with all respect, those that did this investigation did not act with professionalism,” he said.
There are Mexico’s implicit threats to restrict and even expel U.S. drug agents to the already manifested. Those restrictions, combined with dropping the case against Cienfuegos and suggesting the DEA made up the case against Mexico’s former defense secretary, could sour the Biden administration’s security relationship, experts say.
Mike Vigil, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s former chief of international operations, said clearing Cienfuegos “could be the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as U.S.-Mexico cooperation in counter-drug activities.”
Mike Vigil said that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s claims that the DEA fabricated evidence against General Salvador Cienfuegos so that he would be charged and detained in the United States as part of retaliation are false. Vigil assures that the case against the military man is strong and that no DEA element would jeopardize its career to fabricate evidence.
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