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Report: U.S. investigated ties between drug cartel and Mexican President’s allies
U.S. investigators have been looking into ties between drug cartels and allies of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, The New York Times reported. The investigation, which spanned several years, looked into allegations that drug cartels had met and provided Obrador’s allies with millions of dollars after he assumed office in 2018, according to NYT. The investigation was ultimately closed, in part because of the sensitive diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.
Drug cartels have had a known hold on Mexico and its government for decades by paying off and manipulating officials, police and politicians, according to the NYT. Obrador decried the allegations as “completely false.” He said it would not affect the U.S.-Mexico relationship “in any way” but said he wanted a response from the U.S. government.
The Daily Caller News Foundation writes that the recent decision to close the inquiry into Obrador’s allies came in part because sensitivities surrounding of the arrest of Zepeda, which Obrador and his allies were angered by and felt was based on “fabricated” charges, according to NYT. The Department of Justice reversed the indictment and released Zepeda after facing pressure from Obrador’s administration.
“The investigation found no direct ties between Obrador, himself, and the cartels, and some of the information was collected by informants who are often incorrect, according to NYT.” Some informant accounts suggested that Obrador’s allies met with the leader of the Sinaloa cartel prior to his election in 2018.
The Daily Caller News Foundation notes of the Times’ report:
Prior investigations into Mexican officials tied to the cartel have resulted in criminal charges by the U.S. before, such as in the 2020 case of Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda and the 2023 case of former Public Security Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna.
Another account suggested that the leader of the infamously violent Zetas cartel paid out $4 million to two of Obrador’s confidants as an attempted bribe to get released from prison, according to NYT. One account claimed that the cartels possessed video evidence of Obrador’s son picking up drug money.
U.S. investigators also tracked payments made by suspected cartel members to intermediaries of Obrador, according to NYT. One payment was made while Obrador was in Sinaloa visiting the mother of notorious drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera – informally known as El Chapo – who is currently serving a life sentence in U.S. federal prison.
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