The US “deeply disillusioned” Mexico closed the investigation by the ex-defense minister
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Mexico City’s Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos speaks to the audience on the 50th anniversary of the Disaster Assistance Plan (Plan DN-III-E) in Mexico City
By Mark Hosenball and Anthony Esposito
WASHINGTON / MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The US Department of Justice (DOJ) said it was “deeply disappointed” with Mexico’s decision to end the investigation into former Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos after Mexico’s attorney general decided not to bring charges.
The decision, which Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador publicly supported on Friday, and a dump of documents by the Mexican government about US evidence against Cienfuegos threaten to strain the strategic security relationship between the US and Mexico.
On Friday, on instructions from Lopez Obrador, the State Department tweeted the link to a 751-page document containing detailed logs of alleged Blackberry (TSX 🙂 communications.
A DOJ spokesman late Friday described the decision to release confidential information with Mexico as deeply disappointing.
“Posting such information is in violation of the Mexico-United States Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and questions whether the United States can continue to exchange information to aid Mexico’s own criminal investigation,” the DOJ said.
The Mexican State Department declined to comment on the DOJ’s statement.
Lopez Obrador said he ordered the entire archive of publicly available documents because he wanted “full transparency”.
Late Saturday, Mexico released another huge online cache of documents related to the case. The files were thousands of pages in length, although many of them were heavily redacted.
The document released on Friday often contains misspelled text messages between “Thor”, “Superman”, “Spartacus”, “Samantha” and “Iron Man”, suspects who were followed up by agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2015 and 2016 Chatter apparently identified Cienfuegos as an ally of drug cartels during the previous administration.
However, it was not immediately clear what evidence in the communications pointed to misconduct by Cienfuegos.
“These talks are not a smoking weapon against Cienfuegos. But are they completely exonerating? I don’t think so either,” said Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope.
Hope said there was likely more evidence that wasn’t in the data dump.
More critical was John Ackerman, a doctor of constitutional law at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and a supporter of Lopez Obrador.
“I will never defend Cienfuegos. The army has committed all kinds of atrocities while administering Enrique Pena Nieto, but the DEA’s ‘evidence’ is frankly a joke,” Ackerman said on Twitter, suggesting the Blackberry News “Written by a third party”. or fourth class narco or soldier. “
The situation could jeopardize other investigations and legal proceedings in which Mexico needs US cooperation.
“Now they have created a great, great source of friction with the US and that could really get in the way of not only this investigation but other investigations that President (Lopez Obrador) is really interested in,” Hope said.
Cienfuegos, who served as a minister during the administration of former President Pena Nieto from 2012 to 2018, was arrested at Los Angeles Airport in October on charges of collaborating with a powerful drug cartel.
The US Attorney’s Office later dropped the case and returned it to Mexico for law enforcement. Lopez Obrador’s government promised a thorough investigation into the case.
On Thursday, less than two months after Cienfuegos’ return from the US, the Mexican attorney general concluded that he had no contact with members of the criminal organization and said they would not pursue any criminal charges.
The DOJ spokesman said the department “stands by its investigations and charges on the matter,” that the documents show that the Cienfuegos case was not fabricated and that the information in the United States is complete by a proper US court order were collected respect for the sovereignty of Mexico.
“A US federal grand jury analyzed this material and other evidence and concluded that the evidence supported criminal charges against Cienfuegos.”