A pair of high ranking senators, one from each side of the aisle, teamed up to demand answers from the DEA. There are some disturbing allegations swirling around that the “elite” Drug Enforcement Agency operation in Mexico was “infiltrated by criminals.”
DEA in hot Mexican water
On Tuesday, May 24, the office of Republican Iowa Senator Charles Grassley released a statement, noting that Illinois Democrat Dick Durban and Grassley jointly wrote a letter to DEA chief Anne Milgram.
They “urged the agency to answer detailed questions about the closure of the elite unit.” They also have some questions about a plane.
The letter comes in the wake of action by the Mexican government “slashing cooperation.” Back in April, it was reported by Reuters that Mexico had disbanded their elite unit which worked side by side with the DEA for decades.
At the same time, the Americans “had withdrawn its plane used for high-profile operations from Mexico after officials rescinded its parking spot.” Grassley and Durban want to know, “what’s up with all that?”
Durban throws some heavy weight around Washington as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Grassley sits on the same committee. They don’t like the things they’ve been reading in the news.
“If accurate, these reports raise additional concerns about the status of DEA operations in Mexico and the DEA’s working relationship with foreign law enforcement units,” the senators write. They gave the administration a two week deadline to respond.
Urgent briefing scheduled
Just to make sure the DEA understands their sense of urgency, along with the two week response limit, the senators set up “an urgent briefing to the Judicial Committee.”
They’re especially unhappy because this isn’t the first time they kicked the same can. “The letter follows their earlier request in November for a briefing over DEA’s foreign operations amid reports there were long-standing problems with its oversight.”
This time, the heart of the issue is Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s “allegation the elite unit had been infiltrated by criminals.” That announcement came on the heels of the DEA losing it’s air support. “Mexican officials revoked the plane’s parking space in a hangar at the Toluca airport.”
The Beechcraft twin-turboprop King Air carries ten passengers and “played a key role in capturing some of the world’s most powerful drug lords, and was used on raids against former Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman.”
The senators also accuse the DEA unit in Mexico of being “deeply dysfunctional and constantly leaking to the cartels.” Ivan Reyes Arzate, they write, “previously pleaded guilty in U.S. court in association with what the DOJ has called a drug trafficking conspiracy.”
Not only that, “a ‘former high-level DEA official‘ reportedly characterized the unit as ‘a mess,’ adding that ‘[v]ehicles couldn’t be located, radios couldn’t be located‘ and that ‘[g]uys weren’t showing up to work. Nobody knew what the hell they were doing.‘“