U.S. ‘deeply disillusioned’ Mexico closed probe of ex-defense minister By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Mexico’s Protection Minister Normal Salvador Cienfuegos addresses the viewers through the fiftieth anniversary of the Plan of Help to the Inhabitants in case of Catastrophe (Plan DN-III-E) in Mexico Metropolis

By Mark Hosenball and Anthony Esposito

WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The U.S. Division of Justice (DOJ) mentioned it’s “deeply disillusioned” by Mexico’s choice to shut its investigation of ex-Protection Minister Salvador Cienfuegos, after the Mexican legal professional normal determined to not press expenses.

The choice, which Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador publicly backed on Friday, and a doc dump by Mexico’s authorities of U.S. proof in opposition to Cienfuegos, threatens to pressure strategic U.S.-Mexico safety ties.

On Friday, on Lopez Obrador’s directions, the international ministry tweeted the hyperlink to a 751-page doc that included detailed logs of alleged Blackberry (TSX:) communications.

A DOJ spokesperson late Friday known as the choice to publicize data shared with Mexico in confidence deeply disappointing.

“Publicizing such data violates the Treaty on Mutual Authorized Help between Mexico and america, and calls into query whether or not america can proceed to share data to help Mexico’s personal legal investigations,” the DOJ mentioned.

Mexico’s international ministry declined to touch upon the DOJ’s assertion.

Lopez Obrador mentioned he ordered the entire archive of paperwork launched to the general public as a result of he needed “full transparency.”

Late on Saturday, Mexico launched one other large cache of paperwork on-line regarding the case. The information comprised 1000’s of pages, although lots of them have been closely redacted.

Friday’s launched doc consists of textual content messages, usually misspelled, between “Thor”, “Superman”, “Spartacus”, “Samantha”, and “Iron Man,” suspects being tracked by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) brokers in 2015 and 2016 whose chatter apparently recognized Cienfuegos as an ally of drug cartels through the earlier authorities.

It was not instantly clear what proof was within the communications to point out wrongdoing by Cienfuegos, nevertheless.

“These conversations usually are not a smoking gun in opposition to Cienfuegos. However are they utterly exculpatory? I do not suppose so both,” mentioned Mexican safety analyst Alejandro Hope.

Hope mentioned there was probably extra proof that was not included within the knowledge dump.

John Ackerman, a health care provider in constitutional regulation on the Nationwide Autonomous College of Mexico and vocal supporter of Lopez Obrador, was extra essential.

“I’ll by no means defend Cienfuegos. The military dedicated all types of atrocities through the administration of Enrique Pena Nieto, however the DEA’s ‘proof’ is frankly a joke,” Ackerman mentioned on Twitter, suggesting the Blackberry messages have been “written by a third- or fourth-rate narco or soldier.”

The state of affairs might put different probes and court docket circumstances through which Mexico wants U.S. collaboration in danger.

“Now they’ve created a serious, main supply of friction with the U.S., and that might actually hobble not solely this investigation however different investigations that President (Lopez Obrador) is actually eager on,” mentioned Hope.

Cienfuegos, who was minister from 2012 to 2018 throughout the federal government of former President Pena Nieto, was arrested in October at Los Angeles airport on expenses he labored with a strong drug cartel.

U.S. prosecutors later dropped the case and returned him to Mexico to be prosecuted, with Lopez Obrador’s administration vowing an intensive investigation of the case.

On Thursday, lower than two months after Cienfuegos’ return from america, Mexico’s legal professional normal workplace concluded that he had no contact with members of the legal group and mentioned it won’t pursue legal expenses.

The DOJ spokesperson mentioned the division “totally stands by its investigation and expenses on this matter,” that the paperwork present the case in opposition to Cienfuegos was not fabricated, and the knowledge was lawfully gathered in america by a correct U.S. court docket order, in full respect of Mexico’s sovereignty.

“A U.S. federal grand jury analyzed that materials and different proof and concluded that legal expenses in opposition to Cienfuegos have been supported by the proof.”