The U.N. estimates that the U.S. narcotics market is worth about $60 billion annually.
Leaked emails from the private U.S. security firm Stratfor cite a Mexican diplomat who says the U.S. government works with Mexican cartels to traffic drugs into the United States and has sided with the Sinaloa cartel in an attempt to limit the violence in Mexico.
Many people have doubted the quality of Stratfor’s intelligence, but the information from MX1—a Mexican foreign service officer who doubled as a confidential source for Stratfor—seems to corroborate recent claims about U.S. involvement in the drug war in Mexico.
Most notably, the reports from MX1 line up with assertions by a Sinaloa cartel insider that cartel boss Joaquin Guzman is a U.S. informant, the Sinaloa cartel was “given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago,” and Operation Fast and Furious was part of an agreement to finance and arm the Sinaloa cartel in exchange for information used to take down rival cartels.
An email with the subject “Re: From MX1 — 2” sent Monday, April 19, 2010, to Stratfor vice president of intelligence Fred Burton says:
I think the US sent a signal that could be construed as follows:
“To the [Juárez] and Sinaloa cartels: Thank you for providing our market with drugs over the years. We are now concerned about your perpetration of violence, and would like to see you stop that. In this regard, please know that Sinaloa is bigger and better than [the Juárez cartel]. Also note that [Ciudad Juárez] is very important to us, as is the whole border. In this light, please talk amongst yourselves and lets all get back to business. Again, we recognize that Sinaloa is bigger and better, so either [the Juárez cartel] gets in line or we will mess you up.”
In sum, I have a gut feeling that the US agencies tried to send a signal telling the cartels to negotiate themselves. They unilaterally declared a winner, and this is unprecedented, and deserves analysis.
Bill Conroy of Narco News reports that MX1’s description matches the publicly available information on Fernando de la Mora Salcedo — a Mexican foreign service officer who studied law at the University of New Mexico and served at the Mexican Consulates in El Paso, Texas, and Phoenix.
In a June 13, 2010, email with the subject “Re: Get follow up from mx1? Thx,” MX1 states that U.S. and Mexican law enforcement sent their “signal” by discretely brokering a deal with cartels in Tijuana, just south of San Diego, Calif., which reduced the violence in the area considerably.
It is not so much a message for the Mexican government as it is for the Sinaloa cartel and [the Juárez cartel] themselves. Basically, the message they want to send out is that Sinaloa is winning and that the violence is unacceptable. They want the CARTELS to negotiate with EACH OTHER. The idea is that if they can do this, violence will drop and the governments will allow controlled drug trades.
The email went on to say that “the major routes and methods for bulk shipping into the US” from Ciudad Juárez, right across the border from El Paso, Texas, “have already been negotiated with US authorities” and that large shipments of drugs from the Sinaloa cartel “are OK with the Americans.”
In July a Mexican state government spokesman told Al Jazeera that the CIA and other international security forces “don’t fight drug traffickers” as much as “try to manage the drug trade.” A mid-level Mexican official told Al Jazeera that based on discussions he’s had with U.S. officials working in Ciudad Juárez, the allegations were true.
WikiLeaks has published 2,878 out of what it says is a cache of 5 million internal Stratfor emails (dated between July 2004 and December 2011) obtained by the hacker collective Anonymous around Christmas.