Former DEA Chief in Mexico Fired over Links to Narco Lawyer

Former DEA chief in Mexico Nicholas Palmeri. Photo: DEA


The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) quietly fired its highest-level official in Mexico in 2022 for alleged inappropriate contacts with drugtraffickers’ lawyers, according to a report published by the Associated Press (AP) on Friday, Jan. 27.

According to the AP report, Nicholas Palmeri maintained “inappropriate relationships with lawyers for narcotraffickers.”

“His short tenure saw collapsing cooperation between America and Mexico, along with a chart-topping flow of heroin, cocaine and fentanyl through the border,” the AP wrote.

“Palmeri reportedly took vacations and socialized with Miami drug lawyers, according to confidential records the AP viewed. In the past week, an internal probe also found that Palmeri, 52, allowed money meant to fight narcotics to be used for inappropriate means and also intended to be paid back for his birthday party.”

The AP went on to explain that Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former head of international operations, said that “the post of regional director in Mexico is the most important one in the DEA’s foreign operations, and when something like this happens, it’s disruptive.”

Palmeri, who served as DEA regional director in Mexico, Central America and Canada for just 14 months as DEA regional director, allegedly was hosted along with his wife on a two-day trip to the Florida Keys by attorney David Macey, who frequently represents accused drug lords in U.S. courts.

When confronted by the AP about the dismissal, Palmeri called the charges against him false, claiming that they were “sparked by personal and professional jealousy.”

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