Private investigator, who works on kidnappings around the world, talks about evolution of US tourist kidnappings in Mexico
Jay Armes III said from the ’80s to the mid 2000s, there was a "code" among kidnappers who saw it as a business. Now, he said, it’s a free-for-all similar to American "jugging."
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador blasted the U.S. on Tuesday with claims that the Pentagon had spied on his country, marking another significant step backward in an increasingly tense relationship.
“We’re now going to safeguard information from the Navy and the Defense Ministry because we’re being a target of spying by the Pentagon,” Lopez Obrador said during his daily news conference.
Obrador’s comments followed arrests made in a significant drug bust: U.S. prosecutors announced charges against 28 members of the Sinaloa cartel, including three sons – known as the Chapitos – of former drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the charges at a press conference Friday, and Obrador claimed that the U.S. could not have built its case without information gathering by U.S. agents in Mexico.
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President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks at the National Palace in Mexico City, Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)
He labeled the investigation as “abusive, arrogant interference that should not be accepted under any circumstances,” CBS News reported.
But he made it clear that he had no plans to rebuke the U.S. on the matter – only that he would discuss the issue at some point as part of clarifying “conditions for collaborative work.”
Tensions also increased following the Pentagon files leak in a Discord chat server, which resulted in the arrest of 21-year-old Jack Douglas Teixeira, a Massachusetts Air National Guard member and military technician who allegedly owned the server and leaked the files.
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Five members of the Gulf cartel that the group insists were responsible for the recent kidnapping and murder of Americans south of the border. (Twitter)
The Washington Post reported that the handful of Mexico-related documents included a report that indicated U.S. intelligence agencies had monitored communications between members of the Gulf cartel following the kidnapping of four Americans.
The cartel eventually turned over five members that it claimed were responsible for the kidnapping, which resulted in the death of two of the Americans and an innocent Mexican bystander.
The briefing information was allegedly obtained through “FISA-derived signals intelligence,” including court-authorized wiretaps, the Post reported, adding that it saw no evidence that the information resulted from intercepted communications of Mexican officials.
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Police officers keep watch at the scene where authorities found the bodies of two of four Americans kidnapped by gunmen, in Matamoros, Mexico, March 7, 2023. (Reuters/Daniel Becerril)
A Pentagon spokesman told Reuters that the U.S. Department of Defense maintains a “strong collaborative defense partnership” with Mexico’s Army and Navy, and the groups respect both sovereignty and “respective foreign policy agendas.”
The Pentagon has previously called the leak a “deliberate, criminal act.”
The Biden administration previously expressed concern about the Mexican military’s seizure of an American company’s property in Mexico, and suggested the situation could lead to negative impacts on the ability of the country to do business.
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A multi-agency investigation targeting the Sinaloa drug cartel. (Tempe PD)
Obrador separately claimed that his own government does not engage in domestic espionage, despite claims from nonprofit groups that Mexican authorities had hacked communications between prominent activists and journalists.
Journalists in the country have suffered attacks, including outright murder, over the past year, with 15 such deaths in 2022 – the most in 30 years.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter with a focus on national and global news.