Thu. Jan 21st, 2021


“Although these are very serious charges against a very significant figure, and the old adage ‘a bird in the hand’ comes to mind,” she said, “still I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the government’s decision.”

Word of the dismissed indictment was hailed as a triumph by the government in Mexico, where President Andrés Manuel López Obrador thanked the U.S. for “listening to our position and rectifying.”

The U.S. ambassador had informed the Mexican foreign minister of Mr. Cienfuegos’ arrest soon after he was apprehended at the Los Angeles airport, sparking an uproar inside Mr. López Obrador’s nationalist administration.

In the days following the arrest, high ranking officials gathered for a flurry of meetings in which they expressed fury at having been blindsided by one of their closest allies and strategized how to respond, according to two people familiar with the matter. The feeling in the room was not that Mr. Cienfuegos should have been spared prosecution, but that American law enforcement had violated their trust by keeping Mexico unaware of the investigation of such an important figure, the people said.

The military, one of the most powerful institutions in the country and a close ally of the president’s, was particularly livid at what was viewed as a violation of Mexican sovereignty. Enraged military officials pushed the government to take action.

The frustration quickly began to spill out into the public sphere.

When asked how to interpret the lack of communication from U.S. officials, Mr. López Obrador did not mince his words. “What’s not fair is that they operate in Mexico, they even link up with Mexican institutions, they extract information and reach a resolution without informing the Mexican government what it is they’re investigating.”

Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, suggested that the Cienfuegos capture had jeopardized the country’s extensive security cooperation with the United States. “There will be a revision,” of Mexico’s collaboration with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Mr. Ebrard said in an interview with Proceso magazine.



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