Spokesman for Chihuahua state says US agencies don’t want to end drug trade, a claim denied by other Mexican officials
The US Central Intelligence Agency and other international security forces “don’t fight drug traffickers”, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state government in northern Mexico has told Al Jazeera, instead “they try to manage the drug trade.”
Allegations about official complicity in the drug business are nothing new when they come from activists, professors, campaigners or even former officials. However, an official spokesman for the authorities in one of Mexico’s most violent states - one which directly borders Texas - going on the record with such accusations is unique.
Accusations Are ‘Baloney’
Villanueva is not a high ranking official and his views do not represent Mexico’s foreign policy establishment. Other more senior officials in Chihuahua State, including the mayor of Juárez, dismissed the claims as “baloney.”
“I think the CIA and DEA [US Drug Enforcement Agency] are on the same side as us in fighting drug gangs,” Héctor Murguía, the mayor of Juárez, told Al Jazeera during an interview inside his SUV. “We have excellent collaboration with the US.”
Under the Merida Initiative, the US Congress has approved more than $1.4bn in drug war aid for Mexico, providing attack helicopters, weapons and training for police and judges.
More than 55,000 people have died in drug related violence in Mexico since December 2006. Privately, residents and officials across Mexico’s political spectrum often blame the lethal cocktail of US drug consumption and the flow of high-powered weapons smuggled south of the border for causing much of the carnage.
Drug War ‘Illusions’
“The war on drugs is an illusion,” Hugo Almada Mireles, professor at the Autonomous University of Juárez and author of several books, told Al Jazeera. “It’s a reason to intervene in Latin America.”
“The CIA wants to control the population; they don’t want to stop arms trafficking to Mexico, look at [Operation] Fast and Furious,” he said, referencing a botched US exercise where automatic weapons were sold to criminals in the hope that security forces could trace where the guns ended up.
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms lost track of 1,700 guns as part of the operation, including an AK-47 used in 2010 the murder of Brian Terry, a Customs and Border Protection Agent.
Blaming the gringos for Mexico’s problems has been a popular sport south of the Rio Grande ever since the Mexican-American war of the 1840s, when the US conquered most of present day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico from its southern neighbour. But operations such as Fast and Furious show that reality can be stranger than fiction when it comes to the drug war and relations between the US and Mexico. If the case hadn’t been proven, the idea that US agents were actively putting weapons into the hands of Mexican gangsters would sound absurd to many.