The Mexican government decided to shut an elite anti-narcotics unit that worked along with the DEA for nearly half a century, tackling organized crime in the Latin American nation. The situation comes in a moment when criminality is rising in Mexico, to the point where it has already become one of the main concerns for the vast majority of voters in the country.
Of course, this problem with criminality and homicide rates isn’t new under the administration of left-wing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. In fact, this is one of the criticisms that many voters and the Mexican opposition use against him.
Naturally, this whole situation has a pretty delicate implication: the fact that it represents a pretty significant hit to bilateral security cooperation between Mexico and the United States. This is pretty concerning considering that this country has always been the most important ally of Washington in Latin America.
What’s even worse for the White House’s interests is that this is not the first case of a similar hit to bilateral security cooperation made by a significant partner in Central America. After all, the relationship between the United States and El Salvador has been severely damaged since the rise of Salvadoran populist President Nayib Bukele.
The Mexican government shut a powerful unit.
The unit that the Mexican government decided to shut down was one of the Sensitive Investigate Unit, which operates in nearly 15 countries around the world. This way, it is quite surprising that the government of President Lopez Obrador decided to take this step, given the fact that far from being an irrelevant group, the truth is that this unit was quite powerful.
In fact, each of these units has always been seen as invaluable in dismantling powerful criminal organizations not only in Latin America but also around the world. This way, it seemed quite strange that a country with such a concerning criminality problem decides to take this action.
Getting to this point, it is important to explain that even when each of these units are fully trained by the DEA, the truth is they are under the control of the national governments of the country they operate. This means that, if a certain unit is operating in Paraguay, this unit will respond to Asuncion instead of the DEA itself.
Basically, this means that even when the decision taken by the government of President Lopez Obrador is extremely controversial, it is fully legal and it didn’t violate any norm. However, it raises a lot of questions about the president’s willingness to tackle crime and the drug cartels that control several parts of Mexico.
The unit was responsible for taking down Chapo Guzman.
What many media outlets in Mexico pointed out as the biggest problem in shutting down this unit, was that this one had almost 70 members that were considered some of the most efficient agents in the whole country. In fact, this unit in particular took care of some of the most prominent cases over the last few years in Mexico.
Believe it or not, this was the unit that took care of the capture of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, which was such an important operation that many people around the world compared it to the operation that led to the fall of former Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar Gaviria.
A pretty bad precedent.
The unit’s closure represents the latest case of the breakdown in cooperation between the DEA and Mexico since President Lopez Obrador assumed power in the year 2018. Of course, many political analysts believe that if the left-wing leader decided to shut down this unit, it is quite possible that he could make some more controversial decisions in the near future.
However, the main concern in this whole case is the different precedents of Latin American leaders shutting down units of the DEA. One famous case was the one of Evo Morales in Bolivia, given the fact that it was later revealed that the reason behind breaking ties with this agency had a lot to do with the drug-trafficking operations he was involved with in the Andean nation.
Of course, another famous precedent and similar case as the one of the Mexican government came from former Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. He decided to shut down DEA’s office in Caracas during his first years in power. While he said at the beginning that this was nothing more than a move to “undermine the imperialist influence in Latin America,” time revealed it was nothing more than a move to protect the drug cartels that were operating in Venezuela.