“Sol Prendido” for Borderland Beat

The president assures that the presence of the cartels throughout the territory of the United States “is not new” and dismisses criticism of his security policy
López Obrador shows an interview with Mike Vigil, former DEA agent, at the morning conference on May 13, in Mexico City.
The latest DEA report is at the center of new tensions between the anti-drug agency and the Mexican Government. Andrés Manuel López Obrador rejected the findings about the presence of the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) in the 50 states of the United States. “It is not new, it is a rehash,” said the president of Mexico in his conference press this Monday. The president pointed out that Washington “has not addressed the causes” of the crisis due to fentanyl consumption and that the document supports the narrative that culprits must be sought outside the United States. “It makes it very easy for them to blame Mexico,” he commented.
The DEA dedicated more than half of its latest annual report, published last week, to detailing the progress of the Sinaloa Cartel and the CJNG, whom it points out as the main responsible for the synthetic drug epidemic that claims dozens of lives each year in US territory. According to health authorities. “They are behind the worst drug crisis in the history of the United States,” the agency maintains.
In the 57-page document, the DEA maintains that the profits of criminal groups from the sale of fentanyl are in the order of billions of dollars each year and that both cartels already have a presence in at least 40 countries. Among other controversial revelations, the report indicates that Los Chapitos, the faction of the Sinaloa Cartel led by the sons of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, are waging an internal war for control of the organization with the cell commanded by Ismael El Mayo Zambada, former associate of El Chapo and who, according to the DEA, is in poor health. The business model of both groups and their collusion with the Mexican authorities to operate “freely” are also detailed.
During his morning briefing, López Obrador screened the video of an interview with Mike Vigil, a former Mexican-American DEA agent, who maintains that the published information had been known for at least five years. In the recording, Vigil also questions the security model of the Mexican Government, ensuring that the policy known as “hugs, not bullets” is not working. The president dismissed the criticism and said the strategy “takes time.” “There are those who maintain, and I respect them, that what needs to be done is to use force or that the problem is going to be solved with coercive measures. I think that evil cannot be confronted with evil,” he commented.
“Our duty is to guarantee peace and tranquility in Mexico,” said López Obrador, “they must do their homework.” In the president’s opinion, the drug crisis facing the United States is the product of a lack of attention to young people and the deterioration of the social fabric due to a “material-centered” lifestyle. The publication of the DEA’s annual report occurred in a tense week for the bilateral relationship, after Anne Milgram, its director, complained before the House of Representatives that the Mexican Government had not granted work visas to 13 of its agents. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the accusations were “unfounded” and noted that the permits had been granted since April. López Obrador considered that Milgram’s statements were “exaggerated” and commented that perhaps they were based on a “misunderstanding.” This Monday he joked about it and said that he proposed to his counterpart Joe Biden that the country was going to be “more rigorous” with the delivery of visas to Americans.
The relationship between the anti-drug agency and Mexican authorities has been rocky in recent months. López Obrador accuses the DEA of being behind several journalistic investigations that have pointed out alleged links between his inner circle and criminal organizations. The works are based on statements by bosses who claim to have given money to finance the political activities of the current president. The president has denied the allegations and has questioned whether the anti-drug agency has investigated him.
Mexico elects a new president in June of this year and the United States in November. Despite the friction with the DEA and the constant questions about the role of the Mexican authorities in issues such as migration and the fight against drug trafficking in the US campaigns, López Obrador was optimistic about the future of diplomatic relations between both countries. “There are many ties of friendship, of coexistence,” he said.