U.S. Played Role in Blocking Mexican Defense Minister With Drug Ties


The United States played a role in blocking the appointment of Gen. Moisés García Ochoa last fall as Mexico’s minister of defense, reports the New York Times. The Obama administration had many concerns about the general, including the DEA’s suspicion that he had links to drug traffickers and the Pentagon's anxiety that he had misused military supplies and skimmed money from multimillion-dollar defense contracts. The U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Anthony Wayne, met with senior aides to President Enrique Pena Nieto before his inauguration Dec. 1 to express alarm at the general's possible promotion, the paper said.

That back-channel communication provides a rare glimpse into the United States government's deep involvement in Mexican security affairs — especially as Washington sizes up Peña Nieto, who is just two months into a six-year term. The American role in a Mexican cabinet pick also highlights the tensions and mistrust between the governments despite proclamations of cooperation and friendship. “When it comes to Mexico, you have to accept that you're going to dance with the devil,” said a former senior D.E.A. official, who requested anonymity because he works in the private sector in Mexico. “You can't just fold your cards and go home because you can't find people you completely trust. You play with the cards you're dealt.”

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