Mexico’s interior minister appointed men allegedly part of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel to top security positions in Tabasco state, where he was governor from 2018 to 2021. A soldier sold weapons from an army base, arming drug cartels at the same the Mexican government was filing suit against U.S. gunmakers for allegedly fueling mayhem south of the border. The army also surveilled the burgeoning feminist movement, which has taken to the streets in mass protests across the country over a lack of action on gender violence.

The revelations were part of a data dump from the so-called #SedenaLeaks information hacked from the Defence Ministry (SEDENA) – in a security breach shining a spotlight on one of Mexico’s most secretive and hermetic institutions: the military.

It threatens to embarrass President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has leaned heavily on the military throughout his administration – tasking the armed forces with everything from building and operating airports to running the customs service and seaports to managing a national park and taking tourists to the Islas María (a former prison colony) – while portraying soldiers as somehow incorruptible and less prone to graft and grifters than civilians.

But it especially exposed the long-suspected collusion between drug cartels and state actors – including politicians, police and soldiers – at a time when López Obrador promotes a soft-on-crime policy (oft-stated as “hugs, not bullets”) and shows more scorn for civil society than criminal groups.