Mexico, US stress attacking cartels’ business models, guns

National

View of weapons seized by Mexican Security Forces before being destroyed at the Morelos II Military Region headquarters in Tijuana, northwestern Mexico on March 5, 2018.
According to several reports made between 2009 and 2014, including a United States congressional report, about 70% of firearms seized in Mexico can be traced to the United States.(GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A security meeting between Mexican and U.S. officials on Thursday stressed attacking drug cartels’ business interests, the guns they use and the addictions they profit from.

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said the talks proved that a good relationship exists between the administrations of U.S. President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The department said the two countries set as priorities “reducing the flow of arms and drugs, reducing the violence caused by organized crime, treating addictions as a public health problem and attacking the finances of criminal organizations.”

It said there was “broad agreement” between the two countries, but there have been apparent frictions. López Obrador has implemented a policy of avoiding confrontations with the cartels, and imposed limits on foreign law enforcement agents working in Mexico.

The talks stressed “a framework based on intelligence work against the business models of organized crime.” Mexico has long relied on U.S. intelligence, but that cooperation may have been hampered by Mexico’s decision this year to withdraw immunity for foreign agents and restrict their activities in Mexico.

Mexico also strong-armed the United States into releasing a former Mexican defense secretary arrested in Los Angeles in October on drug charges. Mexico cleared retired Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos after conducting only a cursory investigation of the U.S. evidence against him, and then published the whole case file.

The Mexican delegation was led by Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, while the U.S. was represented by Juan Gonzalez, the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere.

López Obrador has stressed attending to the root social causes of violence by creating job, scholarship and apprentice programs for youths. But at the same time he has said Mexico is no longer interested in arresting drug lords or engaging in shootouts with cartels.

However, his policies have not been effective in the short term in significantly reducing gang-related violence.

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