On the eve of President Obama’s trip to Mexico, Mexican authorities on Tuesday announced the capture of a key drug cartel operative, the father-in-law and associate of one of the world’s most-wanted fugitive kingpins. The major arrest — the first under new President Enrique Peña Nieto — comes as the extraordinarily close U.S.-Mexican cooperation in the drug war is undergoing significant changes.
The Los Angeles Times reported this week that officials of the 5-month-old Mexican administration were alarmed to discover how deeply involved U.S. advisors were in sensitive areas of security and law enforcement during the six-year government of former President Felipe Calderon. As a consequence, the new government plans to narrow American participation in its agencies and activities, confining U.S. contacts to more limited channels. The development is unnerving U.S. officials, who have overseen a program of nearly $2 billion in support to Mexico’s drug war, including the training of police and judicial institutions.