The Prosecutor’s Office frees a US hostage in Culiacán, kidnapped a year ago in the United States, allegedly by members of the Sinaloa cartel
In the last two weeks, authorities in Mexico and the United States have slowly reported the results of a joint anti-drug operation, which began with a focus on opioid trafficking and ended with the release of an American person, held for a year in Sinaloa. . According to the US authorities, alleged Mexican criminals kidnapped this person in January 2020. In a statement released this Tuesday, the United States Department of Justice expressed its “relief” for the release of the hostage and highlighted that the agents took heroin and fentanyl worth more than a million dollars.
Neither the Mexican authorities nor those of the neighboring country has reported the temporary nature of the operation. In a statement released on March 7, the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) had reported that agents of the institution rescued the kidnapped person from a house in Culiacán. On the day of liberation, the agents searched three houses in the capital of Sinaloa. In one they arrested “Óscar G.”, who was supposedly watching the hostage, of which no further details have been given. In another, they apprehended “Luis C.” with a firearm. In the third, they arrested “Ericka Q.”. The woman was also found a quarter of a kilo of heroin.
In its statement, the FGR only added that a judge had sent the three to prison while initiating the process against them. The case was not known for weeks, until yesterday, the US Department of Justice revealed the identity of one of them, Luis C., whom they point to as the leader of the criminal network. The man is actually Luis Castro Valenzuela, linked to the Sinaloa cartel. The United States authorities accuse him of having organized the kidnapping and of having established a heroin and fentanyl trafficking network between Sinaloa, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.
In the indictment, the US prosecutor’s office accuses Castro Valenzuela of “conspiring to distribute controlled substances” in the country from 2017 to 2020. The substances in question are fentanyl and heroin. Investigators link the Mexican with Jamar Jackson, alias Jay, the alleged leader of the network in the United States. Prosecutors point out that Castro Valenzuela would have organized the kidnapping and forced Jackson to sell his drugs to pay the ransom. To this day, the circumstances of the kidnapping are unknown, whether it was in Mexico or the United States, or whether the hostage was transferred from one country to another.
In the statement from the Justice Department, Delaware District Attorney David C. Weiss highlighted the “unprecedented collaboration between local, state, US federal and Mexican officials.” Weiss added that such cases demonstrate “what can be achieved when various agencies work selflessly toward a single goal.” The prosecutor also expressed his “deep gratitude to Mexican prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and military personnel for their crucial assistance.”
Without implying a normalization in the relationship between the security agencies of both countries, the operation and Weiss’s words seem to temper spirits after the Cienfuegos affair. At the end of last year, the US justice arrested General Salvador Cienfuegos in Los Angeles for drug trafficking. The prosecution accused the general, Secretary of Defense during the Government of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), of collaborating with a criminal network with a presence in the Mexican Pacific.
In an unprecedented diplomatic offensive, the Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador demanded that the United States know the evidence against the general and his transfer to Mexico so that he could be investigated in his country. The government of Donald Trump agreed to release the general from prison, and sent him to Mexico. Weeks later, the FGR reported that after studying the evidence, the case did not hold up. The evidence sent to Mexico consisted of hundreds of messages allegedly exchanged between Cienfuegos and the criminal network. And many other messages from the alleged criminals talking about the general.
Although there were criticisms in all senses – against the FGR, against the government’s diplomatic effort, against the growing power of the military in Mexico – all of them paled in the face of the barrage of much of the public opinion against the evidentiary standards of the US authorities. . López Obrador harshly criticized the justice of the neighboring country and announced that they would review the presence of foreign agents in the country.
Months after that, with another president in the White House and bilateral relations still to be configured, the Valenzuela case seems to indicate that the security agencies of both countries continue to collaborate. At least by inertia