Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador reignited demands this week for either clarity or an apology over a botched United States gun-running operation dubbed "Fast and Furious."
López Obrador said there is "still time" for current leaders of the U.S. federal government to apologize for the 2009-2011 border-crossing scheme which intended to trace firearm sales to Mexican drug cartel bosses. But the operation backfired after several weapons sold by U.S. law enforcement were tied to murders throughout Mexico.
On Monday, López Obrador first brought up the U.S. gun-running sting while discussing potential corruption tied to the drug trafficking arrest of Genaro Garcia Luna, Mexico's security minister between 2006 and 2012.
"What seems serious to me is that a violation of our sovereignty was carried out, a secret operation, and that Mexicans were killed with these weapons," Lopez Obrador said during a press conference in Mexico City on Friday. "There is still time for the U.S. to apologize."
The Mexican president urged his predecessor, Felipe Calderón, to also explain Mexico's involvement in "Fast and Furious," particularly any corruption that may have occurred during his 2006-2012 tenure in office. On Twitter, Calderón replied on Thursday that his government played no part in the botched operation. An exchange between the two last week highlighted the country's rising number of homicides during López Obrador's administration. Since taking office, his focus has remained on fighting the poverty which leads to crime rather than the aggressive military crackdown on the drug cartels which was preferred by Calderon's government.
Mexico Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard announced he would follow up with a letter to the U.S. in their latest request for more detailed information about the decade-old operation inside their border. A former American ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson, has previously suggested that both the U.S. and Mexican governments were aware of potential corruption tied to Garcia Luna, Mexico's ex-security minister. He was arrested in Texas by U.S. federal agents last December on drug trafficking and bribery charges.
Last Monday, Lopez Obrador said U.S. officials with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) should be investigated for potential cooperation with Garcia Luna. All three federal agencies did not respond for comment by Saturday afternoon.
"How could this be? A government that invades in this way, that flagrantly violates sovereignty, international laws," Lopez Obrador added Friday. "We have to shine light on this so that an action of this type will never be carried out again."
Lopez Obrador noted that President Donald Trump had been "respectful" to Mexico's government in joint discussions regarding national security issues between the bordering nations, Reuters reported. Critics of the president, including Democratic Revolution opposition party co-chair Fernando Belaunzaran, have accused Garcia Luna of helping Trump politically by reigniting the "Fast and Furious" criticisms this week. The operation was primarily set during the Obama administration, which included Trump's presumed upcoming foe in the November presidential election: former Vice President Joe Biden.
Belaunzaran on Twitter this week called the Mexican president's "Fast and Furious" criticisms a "badly disguised" political stunt intended to curry favor with Trump.
The White House did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment Saturday.