DEA: No Comment on Drug Cartel Obtaining Intelligence Reports That DEA Provided to High-Level Mexican Authorities

May 21, 2010 - 3:32 PM

DEA agents in a training exercise. (Wikipedia Commons)

( -- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) declined to comment on reports that a drug cartel from the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa had access to documents detailing Mexico’s counter-narcotic operations, including information that the DEA had provided to high-level officials in Mexico’s Public Safety Department. 
On May 10, the Mexican daily newspaper Reforma reported that the leaked documents, copies of which were obtained by Reforma, constituted  evidence that the Sinaloa cartel, one of the strongest in Mexico, “has an efficient system for obtaining information from the main intelligence agencies of the [Mexican] state, allowing it to even obtain the reports that the DEA provides to Mexico.”  
In response to’s request for comment, David Ausiello, a pubic affairs specialist at the DEA, said in an e-mail on May 17, “We are going to decline to comment on that report/story.”
When contacted the attorney general’s office of Mexico back on May 7, spokesperson Macias Vences Viviana said the office would respond, but it has yet to provide any comment to on the issue.

The Reforma article revealed that at least up until the Mexican military seized the leaked documents in May 2009, Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, who remains a fugitive, was well aware of “every step” surrounding anti-drug operations by Mexico’s federal government.
The leaked documents were presumably used to anticipate steps taken by the Mexican government against Guzman’s drug cartel. 


The Mexican military seized the leaked documents when they arrested cartel member Roberto Beltran Burgos on May 29, 2009. The documents were listed as evidence in the criminal charges filed against him. Burgos denied owning the Hummer truck in which the papers were found.
Reforma further reorted that the Guzman cartel was presumably able to obtain “precise information about the government’s operations and targets at just the right time, allowing it to evade them.”
The leaked documents contained detailed information, including shared-DEA intelligence that was meant to be seen only by high-level officials within Mexico’s Public Safety Department.
One annotation in the seized documents, apparently made by a drug trafficker, revealed that the cartel had access to investigations said to originate from the DEA.
It read, “Note: Here also informs about today’s investigations driven by … military intelligence and some by the DEA.”
The exclusive documents included “descriptions of ranks and responsibilities, code names, e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers and the identification numbers for the Nextel radios used by the main federal armed forces support commanders,” Reforma reported.

In addition, the Mexican military also seized a ledger that apparently listed code names for police commanders on the cartel’s payroll. Reforma noted that the list “has not been completely deciphered.”
In regards to the leaked documents, the Associated Press (AP) reported on May 11 that, according to U.S. law enforcement authorities, “Guzman had largely won the battle for the lucrative and hotly contested trafficking route through the violent border city of Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas.”
“More than 22,700 people have been killed in drug violence since [Mexican President Felipe] Calderon launched his anti-cartel offensive after taking office in December 2006,” the report added.
Furthermore, the AP reported that Ricardo Najera, a spokesman for Mexico’s attorney general's office, said he could neither confirm nor deny the legitimacy of the leaked documents.
In November 2008, a probe of corruption at the top levels of Mexican law enforcement known as “Operation Clean House” ousted that country’s former anti-drug czar, Noe Ramirez, along with other top officials for allegedly working with a drug cartel. Ramirez was arrested on suspicion of passing intelligence to drug gangsters from Sinaloa.

President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon during a joint news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

After the revelation that the Sinaloa cartel had access to restricted government documents, Samuel Gonzalez, the country’s former top anti-drug prosecutor, said, “What I see clearly here ... is that the process of infiltration continues” among Mexican police, according to the AP’s May 11 report.
“Allegations have long circulated that Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, who emerged as the top law enforcement officer after Operation Clean House, may have somehow favored the Sinaloa cartel headed by Guzman,” reported the AP.
AP continued: “Garcia Luna has denied any link to the Sinaloa cartel, and Calderon has said the department has fought all the cartels equally. No firm proof of favoritism has ever been presented, but the arrests of top drug capos have hit all of Mexico's other cartels, while leaving Sinaloa's leadership largely untouched.”
Guzman “El Chapo” has been successful in evading authorities apparently because of  classified information to which he has gained access. He remains at large. Forbes magazine, in 2008, listed him as one of the richest people in the world with an estimated net worth of $1 billion.