A Useless Controversy


A useless controversy shakes Mexico: did the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration intervene in the capture of Rafael Caro Quintero?

Maybe, but not necessarily directly, or with agents at the scene.

Not to rule out other methods, but the DEA would have most likely involved itself with intelligence information, perhaps obtained by the interception and tracking of telephone calls. This is easily within the capabilities of the American espionage apparatus and its electronic equipment.

And of course, one can’t forget the probability of data obtained directly through confidants or infiltrators, or from alleged criminals detained in the U.S. who sought less harsh judicial treatment in exchange for revealing the whereabouts of one of the men most wanted by the DEA.

Quintero, after all, was responsible for the kidnapping, torture and murder of the American agent Enrique Kiki Camarena in February-March 1985 in Guadalajara. The event caused a crisis in bilateral relations, in addition to creating resentment and distrust that have lasted for decades. Quintero — and many of those who are said to have helped him — are still beyond the direct reach of the U.S. authorities, and the sense of justice in the neighboring country is based on an ancient principle: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

But that’s not to say that the DEA and its sister agencies, from the CIA to the NSA, do not have the tools and methods to keep tabs on what happens in topics that interest them, such as the location and actions of important drug traffickers in Mexico — especially those who, like Quintero, “owe” something.

U.S. espionage in Mexico is nothing new. According to some historians, as early as 1914 the predecessors of the current surveillance organizations intercepted telegraph communications between Mexican military leaders.

And today, the ability of the U.S. to intercept communications is enormous. So enormous that one can be certain that it has problems identifying information of interest among the extraordinary volume of data obtained in that way.

Pleasant? Certainly not. But it’s the reality. After all, Mexican drug trafficking organizations have been singled out as a danger to the national security of the United States, based on the more than 100,000 deaths attributed to drug use in 2021.

And regardless of the resources the U.S. has or could have on Mexican territory, it has plenty of communications interception equipment and the patience to seek its revenge.

Mexico has struggled with this reality for decades without going much further than statements of offended national sensitivity or of developing its own capabilities, without giving in to the temptation to use them against domestic political enemies.

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About Adam Wambeke 15 Articles
Hi, I'm Adam from the United States. I live and grew up in Minnesota. I studied Spanish Language, Literature, and Culture at Minnesota State University, Mankato from 2010-2014. I studied abroad in Spain during the summer of 2012 and would love to return to Salamanca someday. Linguistics has been an interest and a passion of mine since a young age. I'm also a musician, a cook, and a fan of science fiction, amongst other things.

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