U.S. special forces are secretly operating in Mexico, while the U.S. government is “allowing” the powerful Sinaloa Cartel to traffic drugs across the border, according to documents released by WikiLeaks this month.
Since February the controversial whistle-blowing organization has been publishing “The Global Intelligence Files” – over five million emails leaked from Stratfor, a Texas-based global intelligence company, which date from July 2004 to December 2011.
“U.S. special operations forces are currently in Mexico. Small-scale joint ops with Mexico’s [special forces],” wrote “US714,” a U.S. law enforcement officer in charge of border investigations, to Stratfor staff in an email from June 2011 released on Sunday.
This was corroborated by a Mexican diplomat referred to as “MX1,” who told Stratfor “I can confirm that there is Marine presence, but I don’t know if it is MFR [Marine Force Recon – the U.S. Marine Corps’ special operations unit].”
“Operational coordination and indeed joint exercises have been conducted, and there are more in the planning stages,” said MX1. “We do indeed have US military presence in Mexico as part of the MI [Merida Initiative] coordination office (even though they are sometimes under official cover as DOS [Department of State], etc…) There are advisors and intelligence operatives that work on the tactical level with their Mexican counterparts.”
Under the Merida Initiative, the United States has been providing Mexico with funds, equipment, training and intelligence in order to help fight drug trafficking. But there are officially no U.S. troops operating south of the border, for this would represent a violation of Mexico’s sovereignty.
“Mexican public opinion would be outraged if there were U.S. soldiers engaged in a direct operational role in Mexico,” said MX1.
“I can’t confirm that there are independent U.S. operations in Mexico of any sort,” he added, but “the repercussions on cooperation from a black op that we are not aware of would be immense, even if the [Mexican] government didn’t care.”
Breaking the story on Monday, NarcoNews.com revealed that another of the leaked emails identifies MX1 as Fernando de la Mora Salcedo, a former member of the Mexican Consulate staff in El Paso, Texas and now a consul in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Stratfor emails were passed on to WikiLeaks by the hacking group Anonymous. Stratfor condemned this “deplorable breach of privacy” in a statement earlier this year.
“Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic,” stated the Stratfor press release. “We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them.”
In another email from June 2010, MX1 suggested that the U.S. and Mexican “governments will allow controlled drug trades,” alleging that the “the major routes and methods for bulk shipping into the US have already been negotiated with U.S. authorities,” and that large shipments of drugs belonging to the Sinaloa Cartel “are OK with the Americans.”
Run by billionaire drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the Sinaloa Cartel is one of Mexico’s most powerful drug-trafficking organizations.
De la Mora’s comments appear to back up the legal defense of a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel soon to go on trial in Chicago for drug trafficking.
Vicente Jesus Zambada Niebla was arrested in March 2009, just hours after meeting with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in a Mexico City hotel. In pre-trial proceedings earlier this year he claimed immunity under a deal allegedly struck between the U.S. government and the Sinaloa Cartel.
In exchange for information on rival organizations, Zambada said he and the cartel leadership were given “carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago and the rest of the United States” between 2004 and 2009.
As part of the arrangement, he also claimed the Sinaloa Cartel received weapons through the “Fast and Furious,” a botched operation in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) illegally sold 2,000 firearms to Mexican gangs, with the purported aim of tracing the weapons and then prosecuting the criminals.
One of the highest ranking Mexican drug traffickers to ever go on trial in the United States, Zambada’s case is due to begin in October.
WikiLeaks made headlines worldwide this week due to the ongoing controversy surrounding the organization’s founder Julian Assange.
Wanted in Sweden for questioning over two allegations of sexual assault, Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange has offered to be questioned within the embassy but refuses to return to Sweden for fear he will be extradited to the United States.
Ecuador offered Assange political asylum, but last week the British government provoked a major diplomatic row by threatening to enter the embassy and arrest Assange, an action that would represent a clear violation of international law.
If extradited, Assange fears he would face similar treatment to Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army whistleblower who passed thousands of documents to WikiLeaks. Bradley has been imprisoned by the U.S. government for over two years (mostly in solitary confinement) without trial.
Earlier this year the Stratfor leaks revealed a grand jury in Virginia has already issued a secret sealed indictment against Assange for espionage, while prominent U.S. politicians have even called for him to be executed.