Mexico: ex-officials now work for US drug enforcement

At least 80 former Mexican government employees with backgrounds in intelligence and security are now working for US government agencies as analysts and informants, according to a Dec. 18 article in the left-leaning Mexican daily La Jornada. Unnamed top officials in Mexican federal security agencies told reporter Gustavo Castillo García that the informants range from high-level ex-officials to former low-ranking police agents, and that “it hasn’t been discounted that current employees may also be working for the US.” Most of the former Mexican employees are reportedly employed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), but some are with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); they work in Mexico City locations that include the US embassy, a building at 265 on the Reforma avenue, and one floor of a hotel at the Ángel de la Independencia. (LJ, Dec. 18)

The new revelations come at a time when many Mexicans are expressing concern over what appear to be US violations of Mexican sovereignty as the two countries work together in a “drug war” against Mexican narco-trafficking cartels. Just two weeks earlier, a Dec. 4 article in the New York Times revealed that US “narcotics agents have laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds” to and from Mexico in order to use the money to track criminal operations. Reporter Ginger Thompson cited “current and former federal law enforcement officials,” who said most of the agents involved in the laundering and smuggling are employed by the DEA. The article noted the similarity of the drug agents’ money laundering to the bungled Operation Fast and Furious, in which the ATF allowed guns to cross illegally into Mexico in the hopes of tracing criminal activities. (NYT, Dec. 4)

Alejandra Sota, a spokesperson for President Felipe Calderón Hinojoso, told reporters on Dec. 11 that the Mexican government knew nothing about the DEA money laundering but was investigating. (LJ, Dec. 12)

In other “drug war” news, an activist with the Movement for Peace With Justice and Dignity (MPJD), which was formed this year to oppose President Calderón’s militarized fight against the cartels, was found dead of gunshot wounds on Dec. 7 in Aquila municipality in the central western state of Michoacán. The victim, Trinidad de la Cruz Crisóstomo, was a well-known community leader in Xayakalan, Michoacán, and was active with the indigenous Nahua community in Santa María Ostula.

De la Cruz had received threats and had been assaulted in the month before he was killed; his murder may have been related to local struggles rather than to his activism with the MPJD. However, his body was discovered just hours after two other MPJD activists, Eva Alarcón and Marcial Bautista, were kidnapped while riding on a bus from Petatlán, Guerrero, to Chilpancingo, the state capital. MPJD activist Nepomuceno Moreno Núñez was shot dead on a street in Hermosillo in the northern state of Sonora on Nov. 28. After the kidnapping of the two activists in Guerrero, poet and MPJD founder Javier Sicilia called for a suspension of the group’s public activities while the members considered how to safeguard their security. (LJ, Dec. 8)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 18.

See our last posts on Mexico and the narco wars.