The US has announced that it will not seek to negotiate with Mexico to get its southern neighbour to accept an extradition treaty, following a series of controversial detentions.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement on Friday that it was “time to move on” to “negotiate a bilateral treaty with a sovereign, democratic nation, rather than with a country that is a member of the transnational criminal organization, such as Mexico”.
“As we have done all along, we are committed to working with Mexico on a negotiated extradition treaty,” he added.
A spokesman for Mexico’s attorney general, Joaquin Cazares, confirmed that the Mexican government had rejected the extradition treaty and would continue to pursue all legal avenues.
The announcement comes as the Trump administration seeks to increase the pace of its crackdown on illegal drug trafficking and crack down on drug cartels.
Mr Sessions said that he wanted to bring down the supply of heroin to a level where it would be difficult to supply the US market.
US prosecutors have been using a variety of tactics to bring about the removal of drug traffickers from the US border.
The Justice Department has launched a number of prosecutions against people wanted in connection with drug trafficking offences.
Some of those people were recently released from prison on parole.
US authorities have also arrested drug traffickers in Mexico and have carried out border raids in Texas and California.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is also targeting Mexican drug cartels in the United States.
In the last year, the US has carried out more than 6,000 drug raids against Mexican drug traffickers.
However, Mr Sessions indicated that the US was not seeking to stop those operations from continuing.
“This is not about shutting down a whole program, which we are working to expand,” he said.
“It’s about putting together a coalition of partners to go after drug cartels.”
“It will be a long, difficult and complex process to build a relationship with Mexico that will help us fight the cartels,” Mr Sessions added.
“And this is not just about getting the cartels off our streets, it’s about ending the drug trade in this country.”
Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto had welcomed the announcement.
“Mexico welcomes the news that the Trump Administration has decided to reject the extradition of convicted criminals who have been extradited to the United State,” the Mexican foreign ministry said in statement.
“The extradition of these criminals will help to restore confidence in our bilateral relationship and prevent the further destabilisation of our bilateral relations.”
Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, known as “El Big Daddy”, was extradited from the United Kingdom in January to face federal charges for his alleged role in a $US3.7bn (£2.6bn) drug cartel.
Mr Guzman is serving a life sentence in a maximum-security prison in the US.
Mexico’s president has previously been criticised for not doing enough to combat the cartels.