MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s foreign minister on Monday posted a video online detailing a diplomatic note to the U.S. embassy requesting answers about a gun-running sting under the Obama presidency, keeping a spotlight on the controversial issue.
In the video, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard cited former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as saying Mexican authorities knew about the 2009-2011 scheme known as ‘Fast and Furious.’
Representatives for Holder did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Nor did the U.S. embassy in Mexico City.
It was the first time Ebrard or President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had made direct reference by name to a key U.S. figure connected to the program since the issue resurfaced in Mexico a week ago.
In a bid to curb cross-border gun smuggling, the U.S. scheme allowed people to illegally buy arms in the United States and take them to Mexico so that the weapons could be tracked and lead law enforcement officials to crime bosses. Some of those guns were subsequently blamed for the fatal shootings of both Mexican and U.S. citizens.
The current Mexican government has zeroed in on the program to highlight possible corruption under previous Mexican administrations amid a debate over how much they knew about the U.S. operation.
Holder, who served as U.S. Attorney General under Barack Obama between 2009 and 2015, had previously issued a statement via the U.S. embassy in Mexico contending that “Mexican authorities” knew about the program, Ebrard said.
“The (Mexican) government requests that it be provided with all the information available regarding the ‘Fast and Furious’ operation,” Ebrard said in the video posted on Twitter.
Lopez Obrador first brought up the gun-running program last Monday when answering questions about Genaro Garcia Luna, a former Mexican security minister who was arrested in the United States in December on drug trafficking offenses.
Garcia Luna served under former President Felipe Calderon from 2006-12, spearheading a crackdown on drug cartels. Lopez Obrador has used his arrest to argue that corruption was rampant in past Mexican governments.
Some critics of Lopez Obrador contend that he has done U.S. President Donald Trump a favor by raising questions about Garcia Luna as the U.S president prepares to fight a November election against Joe Biden, who was vice president from 2009 to 2017 under Obama.
Lopez Obrador’s supporters say he has focused on the issue to illustrate hypocrisy among his domestic adversaries.
Calderon, a longstanding political rival of Lopez Obrador, said last week there was no agreement between Mexico and the United States to permit illicit entry of arms.
‘Fast and Furious’ followed earlier sting operations that began under Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.
Reporting by Drazen Jorgic and Sharay Angulo; Editing by Dave Graham and Jane Wardell