DEA Officials Accused Of Secret Meetings With Mexican Drug Cartels

By McCarton Ackerman 01/14/14

The Drug Enforcement Agency failed to notify Mexican officials of the meetings despite stipulations in the bilateral agreements between Mexico and the U.S.

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Agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are being accused of secretly meeting with members of various drug cartels in Mexico in exchange for information on rival drug organizations. The findings come from a new investigative report by Mexico’s El Universal newspaper, which claims that more than 50 of these secret meetings took place on Mexican soil between 2000-2012.  Information in the investigative report was obtained from official U.S. and Mexican documents, as well as extensive interviews with various sources.

Mexican authorities were not notified beforehand by the DEA that these meetings would be taking place, per the stipulations of the bilateral agreements between the two nations. The DEA reportedly collected a network of informants of narco-traffickers through these meetings, who signed cooperation agreements in exchange for various charges they faced being dropped, among other benefits.

A 2012 Business Insider report also made similar accusations against the U.S. government. In their interview with Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, the son of Sinaloa leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, he alleged that the U.S. government had met with members of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and arranged a deal to arm drug traffickers in exchange for information. Zambada-Niebla was later arrested for the meeting and he claimed that DEA members told him he would be immune to prosecution.

DEA Agent Manuel Castanon confirmed the meetings with Zambada-Niebla took place and said he also met with him after his arrest. “He reiterated his desire to cooperate. He said he did not want to be in Mexico,” said Castanon. “That was the last time I talked to him.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.