The Obama administration negotiated secretly with the team of then Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto to prevent a Mexican general from being appointed as Secretary of Defense, according to a report by The New York Times.
The reason, the newspaper said, was concerns about Gen. Moisés García Ochoa’s ties to drug trafficking and corruption allegations.
In the days before the inauguration, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Anthony Wayne, met with Miguel Angel Osorio Chong and Jorge Ramírez Marín, members of Peña Nieto’s transition team, to express Washington's alarm with the general’s possible promotion.
"That back-channel communication provides a rare glimpse into the United States government’s deep involvement in Mexican security affairs (...) The American role in a Mexican cabinet pick also highlights the tensions and mistrust between the governments despite proclamations of cooperation and friendship,” the Times wrote.
They quote a former senior official of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) who said that “when it comes to Mexico, you have to accept that you’re going to dance with the devil.” Meanwhile, a former senior Mexican intelligence official commented on the distrust of Americans, saying that the relationship with the United States is "unequal and unbalanced.”
According to the report, the Obama administration had several concerns about García Ochoa, from DEA suspicions of his connections to top drug lords, to the Pentagon’s concerns regarding possible "mishandling" of military contracts.
Colonel García Ochoa led a raid against the Juárez cartel where he allegedly allowed the escape of kingpin Amado Carrillo Fuentes.
García Ochoa, who was born in Ciudad de Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, is the son of a journalist.