Mexico Says U.S. Sting Hurt Joint Effort to Fight 

Mexico Says U.S. Sting Hurt Joint Effort to Fight 
Posted by FoM on December 15, 1998 at 14:34:26 PT

Washington,D.C. Mexico told the United States on Tuesday that cooperation in the war on drugs was "severely strained" by a covert U.S. money laundering sting last spring and that more is needed to repair the damage. 
Mexico's attorney general, Jorge Madrazo, used the opening of the sixth annual meeting of U.S. and Mexican drug-control officials to say his country intends to again raise the "events, circumstances, presumptions, indefinitions or insufficiencies" that led to the undercover operation. He said the operation "severely strained our cooperation" and gave heart to those inside Mexico who would prefer confrontation over cooperation with the United States. If unaddressed, the problem "could jeopardize our respectful bilateral cooperation" in the war on drugs. But Madrazo acknowledged efforts have been made to prevent the situation from happening again. He cited a recent meeting between U.S. and Mexican investigators that showed they could operate jointly "without suspicions or strains." Attorney General Janet Reno, U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey and other federal officials repeatedly stressed respect for Mexico's sovereignty and the need for cooperation to stem the tide of drugs along U.S. borders. "It is clear to us that we must deal with Mexico with the same commitment to their sovereignty as we would (extend) to Canada or France," McCaffrey told reporters. Drug cooperation between the United States and Mexico often has been marked by hostility and suspicion. Many U.S. officials see Mexican law enforcement agencies as corrupt. For its part, Mexico views the United States as hypocrites when it criticizes Mexican anti-drug efforts while continuing its role as the world's largest drug-consuming nation. Shortly after the sting operation was disclosed last May, President Clinton told Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo that the United States never should have kept Mexican authorities in the dark. Mexico lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. government over how the three-year investigation was run. Operation Casablanca resulted in 160 indictments, including of at least two dozen Mexican bankers. Many of them were lured to the United States, where they were arrested. At the anti-drug meeting's opening session, Rosario Green, Mexico's secretary of foreign relations, said the willingness of the Mexican government to cooperate in combating drug traffic is unwavering. "However, President Zedillo has very clearly stated that international cooperation regarding this matter must be based on the respect for our legal framework as well as for our sovereignty," Green said. Attorney General Janet Reno said she is confident the two countries will resolve their problems. "Whatever differences exist between our systems should not be viewed as stumbling blocks to cooperation, ... they should be viewed as building blocks," she said. 
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