An elite anti-narcotics unit that was disbanded last year was infiltrated by organized crime, President López Obrador said Thursday.
He confirmed a Reuters report that Mexico’s organized crime-fighting Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU) – whose officers collaborated with and were trained by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration – was shut down.
“That happened more than a year ago,” López Obrador told reporters at his morning press conference conference.
“… We maintain cooperation with international security organizations but we make sure our sovereignty is respected. Before they entered and left the country and did … what they wanted, they even fabricated crimes. You already know that order was established and we have a relationship of cooperation [with foreign governments] but with respect for our sovereignty,” he said.
The president said that government adversaries complained about his administration’s decision to disband the SIU but asserted they lacked information about the matter.
“It was proven that that group was infiltrated by crime, one of its leaders is being tried in the United States,” López Obrador said.
Former SIU chief Iván Reyes Arzate was in fact sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in the United States in February for trafficking cocaine.
López Obrador said his government has a good – and respectful – relationship with its United States counterpart.
When Felipe Calderón was president and Arturo Sarukhán was Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, U.S. authorities “came in and even brought weapons in,” he said.
“It’s no longer the time of those operations, like ‘Fast and Furious,’” López Obrador said, referring to the 2009-2011 scheme under which the United States government allowed people to buy guns illegally in the U.S. and smuggle them into Mexico so that the weapons could be tracked and law enforcement officials could locate and arrest crime bosses.
“It really catches my attention that there is so much affection in certain media outlets, not all, for foreign agencies,” the president said. “… There is still cooperation but that group that was supposedly of a very high strategic level was infiltrated and its leaders are being investigated and there are prisoners from that group.”
López Obrador said that the only foreign agents now in Mexico are those allowed “according to the new legislation.”
A law that restricts and regulates the activities of foreign agents in Mexico and strips them of diplomatic immunity was approved by Congress in late 2020.
“It emerged, as you know, after the arrest of General [Salvador] Cienfuegos,” López Obrador said, referring to the former defense minister’s arrest in the United States on drug-related charges in October 2020, which angered the federal government.
“… They took that decision without informing us; in addition, they fabricated crimes,” he said.
López Obrador said there are firm guidelines that now govern Mexico’s cooperation with other countries on domestic security issues.
“No to violations of our sovereignty, no to foreign groups operating in roles that correspond only to Mexican authorities, no to the violation of human rights, no to massacres, no to torture. All that is clear and it’s complied with every day,” he said.
With reports from Animal Político