Mexico: Center for National Intelligence (CNI)

New President, New Name

In February 2018, Mexico’s intelligence service, the Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional (CISEN) was renamed the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI). President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a critic of CISEN, ordered the move, along with declassification of non-sensitive dossiers kept by the agency. Most of the agency’s workforce was unaffected by the name change.


CNI’s mission statement defines “national security” as “the indispensable condition to guarantee national integrity and sovereignty, free from threats to the State, in search of building a lasting and fruitful peace.”


The Mexican intelligence service, focused on drug trafficking since 1996, has disrupted some of the country’s drug cartels, but it has failed to stem their pervasive power and violence. In partnership with the United States, CISEN located and arrested and extradited the most notorious cartel leader,  Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.


CISEN was accused of corruption and human rights abuses, which is why the president wanted to change the name. In June 2017 investigators found CISEN had surveilled journalists and human rights activists via powerful spyware tools.


Former prosecutor Alberto Bazbaz, appointed chief of CISEN In January 2018, made national headlines in 2010 when he led a 9-day investigation into the disappearance of a 4-year old girl who was later found deceased in her own bed.


The current director of CNI is Major General (Ret.) Audomaro Martínez Zapata. In 2018 CISEN’s budget was a reported $1.45 billion.