Drug War
Was the DEA Involved in the Failed Detention of El Chapo's Son? Trump Called AMLO After the Culiacán Crisis
López Obrador reported that they talked about the episode that culminated in the release of Ovidio Guzmán. Meanwhile, House Democrats show renewed interest in the actions of the drug enforcement agency.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he received a call from Donald Trump, who express his solidarity with the events that took place this Thursday in Culiacán, where a National Guard operation to arrest Ovidio Guzmán, son of El Chapo, culminated in a wave of violence throughout the city and the release of the heir and drug kingpin.

"I received a call from President Trump expressing his solidarity with the events in Culiacán. I thank him for his respect for our sovereignty and his willingness to maintain a policy of good neighborliness, based on cooperation for the development and the well-being of our peoples," the president wrote on his Twitter account.

The reference to respecting Mexico's sovereignty fueled the versions of an alleged intervention by U.S. security agencies in Ovidios' capture operation. Particularly because AMLO was very clear in the shift he made in security policy: the prevalence of peace in large urban centers over the apprehension of drug leaders.

The shift in Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo's statement, who first attributed Ovidio Guzmán's detention to routine patrolling and then accepted that it was a special operation, also generated suspicions around the move. Who ordered the hunt for Chapo's son? "If the end was extradition, U.S. agencies may have lobbied, right in the middle of Trump's campaign," acknowledge some administration officials.

In Mexico's circles of power is the version that indicates there was pressure from the U.S. government, which would explain an operation that contradicts the new Mexican government policy. Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, who spoke to the press on Saturday, focused on this point.

"Mexico has already abandoned the idea of [acceptable] collateral damage. If the order had been given to proceed with this operation, there would have been more than 200 deaths. In the traditional doctrine the important thing would be to stop only one person. But we don't accept that collateral damage, because people's lives are above one or two detentions," Ebrard said.

The Foreign Secretary assured that Lopez Obrador accepted Trump's offer of assistance, and asked the United States to collaborate at long last in the fight against arms trafficking. The head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalled that in Culiacan were found large caliber weapons capable of penetrating even armored vehicles. "More than 80% of these weapons come from the U.S.," he said.

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landeau confirmed the conversation among the presidents and said Trump had underscored the full support of the United States in the fight against organized crime. "Let's dedicate our energy to defeating the criminals who threaten us all. Together we can," Landeau said.

On Saturday, Trump's son Eric, a frequent guest on Fox News, had mentioned the episode on Cualicán also through Twitter, calling it "insane" and assuring that "the lack of law in Mexico is the reason why we need a strong wall," he said, referring to one of the most controversial campaign promises of the U.S. president that has generated widespread rejection in Mexico.

On Friday morning, Lopez Obrador defended the release of Ovidio Guzman, who is wanted by the U.S. Justice for drug trafficking, saying that the capture of a drug lord was not worth more than the lives of hundreds of people.

House Democrats want to investigate

Meanwhile, Democratic legislators in the U.S. Congress want to revive an inquiry into the DEA's work in Mexico.

The interest has resurfaced after the night of blood and fire in Culiacan. There is a thesis circulating in the Democratic caucus that the operation to capture the son of El Chapo failed because the intel given to the Mexican Armed Forces was inaccurate. That information would have indicated that there was a power shift within the Sinaloa Cartel and that behind that movement Ovidio was an easy target.

This mistake, the Democrats believe, is the reason behind Donald Trump's conciliatory tone with the Mexican government. The president would have responded with fury but quickly became aware of the role of the U.S. agency in the catastrophe and chose to send friendly signals and the traditional and empty promise to stop the flow of ilegal weapons into Mexico.

[Rep. Richard Neal Calls for Labor Reform Guarantees in Mexico Before USMCA Ratification in the House]

The DEA did not say anything, except for the declaration by a former director who practically blamed the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador for the botched operation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has to keep a very delicate balance to avoid a conflict with the DEA over an issue that goes well beyond the border. On the other hand she has the chance to hit Trump in his border security rhetoric.

Aside from the national security concerns, Pelosi is under strong pressure from the corporations to approve the USMCA in November and a belligerent stance would further complicate a possible agreement already affected by the impeachment process in the wake of the Ukrainian scandal. 

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