Mexico Takes a Step Forward on the War on Drugs

In a move for their own sovereignty, Mexico has removed diplomatic immunity from foreign law enforcement (US DEA) agents, and added statutory requirements that any foreign law enforcement share collected intelligence with local authorities.

I see this as an unalloyed good.

It will make the destructive pursuit of the “War on Drugs” more difficult, and will force US law enforcement to consider the impacts of their actions on the locals:

Mexico’s congress has approved a new national security law restricting the activities of foreign law enforcement officers, in a move which critics say will endanger intelligence sources and threaten the future of international anti-narcotics operations.

The law passed on Tuesday strips foreign agents of diplomatic immunity and requires foreign officials in the country to share any intelligence they have obtained with Mexican officials.

While not ostensibly targeting officials from any specific country, the new law would probably impact US agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which maintains a robust presence in Mexico.


The DEA works closely with Mexican security officials and creates much of the intelligence used in the so-called war on drugs. But US operations have sometimes caused a nationalist backlash, and despite billions of dollars in US military aid and attempts at judicial reform, Mexico’s militarised crackdown on crime has claimed more than 200,000 lives and left about 70,000 missing.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president, suddenly sent the bill to congress in early December after complaining of the way the DEA acts in Mexico.

“During other governments, they came into Mexico as if they owned the place. They didn’t just carry out intelligence operations, they went after targets. [Mexican] security forces launched the operations, but the decisions were made by these [foreign] agencies. That no longer happens,” he said.


Ricardo Monreal, senate whip with López Obrador’s ruling Morena party, called the law “an effort to reinforce the principle of reciprocity in matters of national security”.

I’d like to think that this will lead to a more constructive, and less punitive, drug policy in the US, but as Upton Sinclair pithily noted, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it,” and the elements of the US state security apparatus whose salaries are dependent on the “War on Drugs” are unlikely to understand.

I expect a lot of chest thumping and coercion coming from this side of the border.

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