By Jim Kouri
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Government of Mexico on Thursday agreed to join forces in combating the continuing problem of methamphetamine production and trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border, according to DEA officials in Washington, D.C.
Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibanez, who had been angry with the Obama administration over the Operation Fast and Furious debacle, put aside her apprehension and entered into the agreement with Michele M. Leonhart, President Barack Obama’s choice for DEA Administrator.
A Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) will hopefully assist in sustaining long-term joint efforts between the U.S. and Mexico in battling methamphetamine production, but a number of drug enforcement and geopolitical experts are doubtful.
“Signing pieces of paper makes for good photo opportunities for the media, but it remains to be seen how effective the U.S.-Mexican law enforcement coalition will work to at least decrease the amount of ‘speed’ [methamphetamine] coming into the United States,” said Iris Aquino, a former narcotics officer in New York.
While at one time U.S. and Mexican officials enjoyed an amicable relationship that included information and intelligence exchange, joint chemical control efforts, and training and resources for methamphetamine lab dismantling, that relationship has since soured in large measure to the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s failure to inform Ms. Ibanez about the ATF’s gun-smuggling operation.
In a blistering statement in September 2011, Attorney General Ibanez accused President Barack Obama of actually knowing about the operation and being deceptive over the facts behind the weapons being used to kill hundreds of Mexican citizens.
Morales told Mexican reporters that she was demanding a full and honest explanation from the United States government especially since evidence is being gathered that reveals the Obama administration was more involved in Operation Fast and Furious than top officials admitted in their sworn statements.
Mexico’s Attorney General Marisela Morales said on Thursday, “Mexico and the United States are linked not only by economic, political and social bonds, but also by security and law enforcement issues.” The signing of the MOC “is an unprecedented event because both of our countries are signing the very first international instrument that will help fight the manufacturing of synthetic drugs in clandestine laboratories,” she said.
According to officials, Mexico has experienced an enormous increase in clandestine methamphetamine lab and precursor chemical seizures — nearly 1,000 percent more — between 2010 and 2011. This increase has led to a rise of methamphetamine seizures at the U.S. border.
In 2011, Southwest border seizures of meth totaled 7,338 kilograms, more than twice the amount seized in 2009. The Department of State has set aside $12 million in Merida Initiative funding to support Mexican government efforts to enhance Mexico’s capacity to safely secure clan labs, gather evidence, and destroy chemical precursors, according to a U.S. drug enforcement source.