On Friday, July 28th, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador pushed back against estimates made this week about the strength of Mexican drug cartels by the top U.S. counter-narcotics official, saying the United States lacked “good information.”
The comments come in response to testimony from U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Chief Anne Milgram on Mexican cartels as part of a hearing in the U.S. Congress.
Among other findings, Milgram testified the DEA estimated that the powerful Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) have more than 45,000 members, associates, facilitators, and brokers in some 100 countries.
She added Sinaloa and CJNG have a presence in 21 and 19 of Mexico’s 31 states respectively and that the DEA is mapping how both have spread around the world.
“No,” the president said in response to a question from a journalist about if the information from the U.S. official were true. “They don’t have good information.”
Speaking at a press conference, Lopez Obrador questioned her figures and urged the DEA to share more details.
“We don’t have that information. I don’t know where the woman from the DEA got it,” he said.
The pushback from Lopez Obrador is the latest in ongoing tensions between the Mexican government and the DEA.
Since coming to power in 2018, Lopez Obrador has criticized the presence of US security agencies in the country and taken steps to undermine cooperation, such as shutting down an elite police unit that worked closely with the DEA.
His government dropped the case against Mexico’s former Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos, who the DEA alleged colluded with drug lords. Lopez Obrador accused the DEA of fabricating the case.