Mexico and the US will fight drug cartels together

The joint effort comes as a surprise since the relationship has been rocky since Donald Trump became President
Mexico and the US will fight drug cartels together
Opiod addiction and overdose has become a national problem in the US - Photo: Foto Maximum/EL GRÁFICO
16/08/2018
11:15
Reuters
Mexico City
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US and Mexican authorities will set up a joint team, based in Chicago, to target drug cartel leaders and their finances, especially the ones who ship opioids into the US, with the aim to put a stop to overdose deaths, officials said.

This joint effort comes amid strained ties between both countries and just four months before Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel López Obrador, a left-wing nationalist will takes power.

López Obrador has vowed to shake up Mexico’s war on drug cartels and wants to rewrite the rules, his aides have said, suggesting negotiated peace and amnesties rather than the current strategy critics blame for the dominating violence.

He has also said he wants to reset relations with the US, which have been rocky since Donald Trump became President.

“We are sure the next President will be willing to collaborate in the fight against organized crime,” Felipe de Jesus Munoz Vazquez, Mexico’s deputy attorney general for the specialized investigation of federal crimes unit, told a joint U.S.-Mexican news conference in Chicago.

López Obrador’s future Security Secretary, Alfonso Durazo, has said all co-operation pacts between the neighboring countries will be reviewed.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said this kind of co-operation is the first of its kind since a Mexican delegation of this size had never traveled to the US to publicly discuss ways to fight transnational criminal networks before.

Since the 1970s, the “DEA and Mexico's government have cooperated on fighting the flow of illegal drugs, through information and intelligence exchange,” the spokeswoman, Cori Rizman, said. These efforts had aimed to disrupt and dismantle cartels affecting both sides of the border, she added.

“The sole purpose of these entities is one thing and one thing only, money,” said Anthony Williams, chief of operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Targeting cartel finances is crucial to stop the flow of drugs.

Currently, Mexico remains the main road to take cocaine to the US and it has become the top source of heroin, which is fueling a surge in opioid addiction. It is also a major supplier of methamphetamines.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Mexican cartels were responsible for most of the illegal drugs flowing into the nation’s third-largest city, which has been plagued by gang violence and shootings.

In Mexico, for the past 12 years, the Mexican government has deployed thousands of police officers, soldiers, and intelligence officers to fight the violent cartels.

On Wednesday, Mexico said it was offering a reward of MXN $30 million, to receive information that leads to the arrest of Nemesio Oseguera, whose cartel is blamed for driving heroin shipments to the US. He is known as “El Mencho,” and he has become Mexico’s most-wanted drug lord after Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was extradited to the US last year.

In March, U.S. agents in Chicago named El Mencho the No. 1 public enemy and blamed his gang for using “extreme violence” to expand its share of the heroin trade. The US is offering the USD $5 million for information that leads to his arrest.
 

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