Ties between the United States and Mexico took a hit in October, when Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, a former Mexican defense minister, was arrested in Los Angeles on federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges. U.S. investigators had allegedly identified him as a high-level collaborator with Mexico’s powerful drug cartels, known to the cartel members as “El Padrino”—The Godfather.
Mexico’s government was outraged at Cienfuegos’ arrest, with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador—or AMLO, as he is widely known—decrying it as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, even reportedly threatening to expel U.S. drug enforcement agents from Mexico if the charges weren’t dropped. The U.S. eventually agreed to turn the case over to Mexican investigators and allow Cienfuegos to return home.
On the Trend Lines podcast this week, WPR’s Elliot Waldman was joined by Duncan Wood, the director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, to discuss the fallout of the Cienfuegos case and the challenges President-elect Joe Biden will confront in the U.S. relationship with Mexico.