SAN DIEGO — Secret diplomatic cables from consulates along the U.S.-Mexico border show how the escalating drug violence disrupted its consulate operations. It also shows how more routine operations, like the issuance of visas, continued as Mexico’s drug war escalated.
In Nuevo Laredo, members of the ZETAS drug cartel were seen near a compound that housed personnel from the consulate. The incident in February 2010 came during a particularly violent time as the ZETAS and the Gulf Cartel fought for control of the city.
The incident led to the quote “rescheduling” of a consulate sponsored event because of fears the turn out would be very low.
On the other side of the border, dispatches from Tijuana show an intense lobbying effort by business leaders on both sides of the border to speed up the times at ports of entry. Called “Border 2010,” the goal was to reduce wait times at San Ysidro to ten to fifteen minutes. Anyone who has crossed lately knows the lines are just as long as ever.
A website has collected most of the cables obtained by Wikileaks, the transparency advocacy group that obtained the cables, most dated between 2007 and 2010. The hundreds of pages of dispatches address a host of subjects, from economic conditions in Latin America to the plight of migrants returned to Mexico to reports of missing persons believed to be south of the border.
The group originally released the cables to select media organizations, which then wrote numerous stories based on the information contained in the dispatches. But as governments around the world threatened to take legal action against the group, the entire trove of cables was put on the internet. Not most of it is available for the public to review, unredacted.
Other revelations learned through the leaked cables: The Mexican government was denying access to U.S. law enforcement agencies to the weapons seized in Mexico.
The cable said that by 2009, the Mexican government under Pres. Felipe Calderón had seized nearly 65,000 weapons in its battles with the cartels. The leaked memo said Mexican authorities were denying access to those weapons. The cable says there were questions about who actually had custody of the guns.
In Tijuana, the dispatches revealed concerns by U.S. diplomats’ concerns about the former police chief and the fight against organized crime.
One cable, from July 2009, said diplomats were informed that then-chief, Julian Leyzaola, had made a deal with drug-cartel operatives. The cable said Leyzaola, had made a “look-the-other-way agreement” with an Arellano-Felix drug-cartel member. That was Tijuana’s dominant cartel. The cable says that agreement is why Leyzaola went after the Arellano-Felix cartel’s rivals with such enthusiasm.
Diplomats, who have condemned the release of the documents and claim it may endanger the lives of their sources, have declined to answer specific questions about the cables.
- WikiLeaks releases entire archive of U.S. embassy cables (cnn.com)
- Wikileaks Wikileaked (pinkbananaworld.com)