Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador submitted a proposal this week that would remove diplomatic immunity from U.S. agents in Mexico.
The proposal reportedly will require Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents to give all information they collect in Mexico to the Mexican government and will require reports to be submitted by any government officials contacted by the agency to Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department.
“The proposal is that foreign agents will not have any immunity,” says a summary published by the Mexican Senate.
The Associated Press noted that DEA agents are afforded full or limited immunity in most countries.
Mike Vigil, the DEA's former chief of international operations, said the handover of information “is not going to happen.”
“Sadly, there is endemic corruption within the [Mexican] government. It’s going to be leaked, it’s going to compromise agents, it’s going to compromise informants,” Vigil said.
The AP reported that information leaks in Mexico are common and well documented, including a 2017 incident where a commander of a Mexican police unit gave DEA information to the Beltran Leyva drug cartel for millions of dollars.
“It is going to hinder bilateral operations, it is going to hinder bilateral exchange of information. This is going to be much more detrimental to Mexico than to the United States,” Vigil said.
He added, “Ninety percent of the information sharing goes from the DEA to Mexico, rather from Mexico to the US. The vast majority of counter-drug successes in Mexico comes from DEA information.”
This move comes just weeks after former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos’s corruption case in Los Angeles was dismissed. Cienfuegos was arrested in October on drug-related corruption charges. His arrest aggravated U.S.-Mexico relations, with Mexican officials saying the incident had damaged trust between the two nations.
Explaining their move to dismiss the charges, U.S. prosecutors said “sensitive and important foreign policy considerations” had taken precedence over the U.S. government’s decision to pursue charges against Cienfuegos.
Cienfuegos is expected to return home to Mexico without facing any charges there.
After Cienfuegos's case was dismissed, the Mexican government announced plans to no longer allow government officials to be extradited and tried in the U.S. on corruption charges.