Biden administration downplays news of US probe into Mexican president

Estimated read time 3 min read

The Biden administration and officials from the justice department have minimized a recent report stating that US law enforcement had been investigating claims that associates of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador received millions of dollars from drug cartels following his inauguration.

The report was denied by López Obrador, who responded to the New York Times article on Thursday by sharing the contact information of the journalist, Natalie Kitroeff, who works at their Mexico bureau. This action prompted Mexico’s freedom of information organization (INAI) to announce an investigation.

According to a statement from INAI, the president mentioned an investigation by the international newspaper previously mentioned and publicly shared the correspondent’s phone number during the event.

A representative from the US justice department informed the New York Post that there is currently no inquiry into President Lopez Obrador. Similarly, White House national security council spokesman John Kirby reiterated the justice department’s stance, stating that it is their duty to examine any accusations.

According to a report by The New York Times, the investigation in the US revealed possible ties between criminal drug organizations and individuals close to the president, referred to as “advisers and officials.”

According to the newspaper, US law enforcement agencies did not initiate a formal inquiry into López Obrador, also known as Amlo. This decision was made because the US government was not interested in pursuing allegations against the leader of one of its closest allies.

The president of Mexico denied the accusations as being “completely untrue”. He stated that the news of the investigation would not impact Mexico’s relationship with the US, but also mentioned that he anticipated a response from Washington.

In the past month, multiple publications including The New York Times, InSight Crime, ProPublica, and Deutsche Welle have reported on a US-led investigation into financial ties between the Sinaloa cartel, under the leadership of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, and a top aide to López Obrador during his 2006 presidential campaign.

ProPublica stated that the situation poses challenging inquiries on the extent to which the United States should address the governmental corruption that has played a crucial role in the rise of Mexican drug cartels as a major international criminal entity.

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Prior to Mexico’s national elections in June, opposition parties have highlighted instances of corruption linked to cartels within López Obrador’s inner circle. As the Biden administration faces mounting pressure from within the US, there is a growing demand to address illegal immigration from Mexico, which is often facilitated by smugglers affiliated with cartels. There is also concern over the importation of fentanyl, a dangerous drug produced by cartels.

Reporters Without Borders reports that since López Obrador took office in 2018, 46 journalists have lost their lives in Mexico. The organization states that Mexico continues to be one of the most hazardous and lethal countries for journalists, and that President López Obrador has not taken necessary actions to address the ongoing violence against the press.

After disclosing the information of the journalist and presenting a letter from editors requesting a response to the accusations, López Obrador challenged the Biden administration to either support or deny the ongoing investigations. He stated, “This is intriguing because the United States government will now be forced to reply,” as reported by the Hill.


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