Mexico: US agents have access to detained immigrants, WikiLeaks reveals

A secret US diplomatic cable released by the WikiLeaks group and published by the Spanish daily El País on Jan. 23 reveals that the main Mexican intelligence agency, the Center for Investigations and National Security (CISEN), “has allowed USG [US government] officers to interview foreign nationals detained at Mexican immigration detention centers dispersed around the country for potential CT [counterterrorist] information of interest.” The May 16, 2008 cable—described as a “scene setter for the visit to Mexico of FBI deputy director John S. Pistole”—also reported that “senior migration officials” in Mexico “are sympathetic to our concerns” and are working with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to locate terrorism suspects. El País noted that “Mexico is a very nationalist country where the intervention of third parties causes political and social frictions.”

Another US embassy cable, marked “confidential,” shows Mexican president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa in effect acknowledging that he needs US assistance to regain control of the violence-wracked border city Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua state. The Feb. 18, 2010 cable describes a meeting between Calderón and US homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano the day before. “Mexico needs the right USG counterparts, and Calderón asked whether the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) might fill that role,” the cable said, referring to a joint project of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the customs and immigration agencies in El Paso, Texas.

“Secretary Napolitano responded that EPIC can help to identify the right organized crime targets,” the cable continued, “but that Mexico must move beyond military deployments and establish a police capacity in Ciudad Juárez capable of policing every block and street. Social services and rule of law must also be extended throughout the city.” (El País, Jan. 23)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Jan. 30.

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