Mexico lays down new rules for US agents south of the border

Mexico City, Jan 14 (efe-epa).- The Mexican government published on Thursday new norms regulating the activity of foreign agents in the Aztec nation three months after a diplomatic spat with Washington over the arrest in the United States of Mexico’s former army chief at the initiative of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

“Foreign agents who commit offenses or infractions to violate the legal dispositions that prohibit them from exercising functions reserved to Mexican authorities will not benefit from any kind of immunity,” according to the announcement in the official gazette.

Though the rules apply to employees of any foreign government, only the US has a meaningful number of agents deployed in Mexico.

Effective Friday, foreign agents must register with the Foreign Relations Secretariat and their presence is subject to the approval of the military and federal public safety authorities.

Another provision requires foreign diplomatic missions to share with the government any information about actions that have “a significant impact on the life of the country, that represent a threat to national security or which refer to alleged criminal conduct by Mexican public servants or former public servants.”

The regulations reflect amendments made to the National Security Law last month at the urging of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The leftist head of state sought the changes following the Oct. 15 arrest at the Los Angeles International Airport of Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, who was Mexico’s defense secretary from 2012-2018.

Cienfuegos was detained on a DEA warrant in connection with a sealed 2019 indictment accusing him of having accepted bribes in exchange for allowing the H-2 Cartel, a drug-trafficking organization, to operate with impunity.

Lopez Obrador complained to Washington about the DEA’s failure to advise Mexico about the charges against Cienfuegos or share the evidence that formed the basis of the indictment.

On learning that Mexico was pursuing its own investigation of Cienfuegos, the US agreed to drop the charges and send him home.

The preamble to the regulations published Thursday acknowledges that the 1998 pact outlining the Mexico-US Bilateral Cooperation Strategy Against Drugs remains in effect, while stressing language in that document mandating that Washington keep Mexican officials briefed about the activities of DEA agents south of the border.

EFE ppc/dr

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