“Char” for Borderland Beat 

This article was reposted and translated from INFOBAE 

Disclosure of information suggesting organized crime financing for Lopez Obrador’s 2006 presidential campaign halted the major operation.

By: Andres Martinez

Recent disagreements between Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) over an investigation into alleged organized crime financing of the 2006 presidential election have resulted in an unexpected beneficiary: Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho,” leader of the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG).
Tension between the two sides has hindered operations aimed at capturing one of the most wanted criminals, reported journalist Oscar Balderas on MVS Noticias. The planning of an operation aimed at arresting ‘El Mencho’ was affected due to a diplomatic conflict, leaving the CJNG leader to operate more freely.

The discord between Mexico and the DEA intensified following the release of information suggesting organized crime financing of Lopez Obrador’s 2006 presidential campaign. This triggered a series of leaks that undermined trust and collaboration between the two countries on security issues.

Mutual accusations and the cessation of cooperation between Mexico and the U.S. have given ‘El Mencho’, and by extension the CJNG, a tactical advantage in this period of political and diplomatic turbulence. (Infobae México/Jovani Pérez)
Officials from the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC) and the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) indicated to journalist Balderas that there were robust plans for the capture of ‘El Mencho’, based on intelligence provided by the US, as well as by the Australian Federal Police and the Panamanian National Police. However, these strategies were compromised by the subsequent breakdown of relations and cooperation with the DEA.
The situation of “suspension” in joint operations highlights the significant impact of diplomatic relations on the fight against drug trafficking.
Mutual accusations and the cessation of cooperation between Mexico and the US have given ‘El Mencho’, and by extension the CJNG, a tactical advantage in this period of political and diplomatic turbulence.
Despite previous efforts to coordinate action against the cartel, recent tensions have made it clear that the path to capturing one of the most notorious drug traffickers has become more questionable than ever.
Security sources told Oscar Balderas that since September 2023, intelligence authorities had located the CJNG leader, while predicting that his capture could take place in the first three months of this year.
At the end of January 2024, different foreign media, such as Deutsche Welle, ProPublica and Insight Crime, published three separate reports 4 had investigated the financing between 2 and 4 million dollars that the Sinaloa Cartel gave to people close to the campaign of then presidential candidate López Obrador in 2006.

The arrest of the CJNG leader is expected to take place in 2024. (Screenshot)
“U.S. anti-drug agents uncovered what they considered solid evidence that major drug traffickers had delivered around $2 million to political operators working on his (AMLO’s) first presidential campaign,” reads the publication by journalist Tim Golden of ProPublica.
In this regard, President López Obrador rejected the accusations and affirmed that they are just a kind of election campaigning.
“It is completely false, it is a slander, they are of course very upset and unfortunately the press is very subordinated to power (…) Just tell the State Department, the US Government (that) if there is something they don’t like, they should state it openly, they should not send it to say it because it is slander,” said the head of the Federal Executive in his press conference on January 31.
Meanwhile, during President López Obrador’s morning conference at the National Palace on February 22, the president informed that the US newspaper The New York Times sent him, in a “threatening” tone, a questionnaire to clarify the alleged financing of drug trafficking in his last presidential campaign in 2018.
“It seems to me that the Department of Justice (US) has made it clear, that President López Obrador is not being investigated. It would be the responsibility of the Department of Justice to review any allegations,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby responded that same day.