Onetime Interior Secretary Ken Salazar testifies at a July 28, 2021, hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee considering his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Mexico. (Gazette file photo)

There’s no question where Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stands on his country’s instrumental role in flooding the United States with deadly fentanyl.

“Here, we do not produce fentanyl, and we do not have consumption of fentanyl,” López Obrador said in an Associated Press report last week in The Gazette. “Why don’t they (the United States) take care of their problem of social decay?”

Jaws dropped, of course, from Mexico City to Washington, D.C. All the more so considering his remarks coincided with a visit to Mexico by Biden administration Homeland Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall — to discuss the fentanyl crisis.

As the news report noted, there is little debate among U.S. and even Mexican officials that almost all the fentanyl consumed in the United States is produced and processed in Mexico.

Whether López Obrador is lying to himself because he is delusional or lying to the rest of the world because he thinks he can get away with it, the upshot is the same: He’s telling Americans to pound sand. That includes the 70,000-plus U.S. fentanyl victims — more than 900 of them Coloradans — who died from overdoses of the hyper-lethal opioid in 2021 alone.

But even if it’s clear Mexico’s current leadership has no intention of addressing the crisis — or even acknowledging it — there remains a very big question about a related matter: Where’s Ken Salazar in all this?

You may recall Salazar — the former U.S. interior secretary, former Colorado U.S. senator, onetime Colorado attorney general and native son of our state — was one of Colorado’s most influential politicians until President Biden appointed him U.S. ambassador to Mexico in 2021. That’s when Salazar pretty much disappeared.

Sign Up For Free: Gazette Opinion

Receive updates from our editorial staff, guest columnists, and letters from Gazette readers. Sent to your inbox 12:00 PM.

Success! Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

He is supposed to be our country’s point man in Mexico City. He is the president's pick to serve as the face and voice of U.S. policy. Yet, The Gazette editorial board’s repeated attempts to reach out to Salazar on this and other issues over the past year have been met with silence.

We do know Salazar is alive and presumably well because, as the Associated Press also reported, he did manage to tweet last Thursday that the White House envoy’s visit was intended, “to enhance security cooperation and fight against the scourge of fentanyl to better protect our two nations.” So, at least, Salazar knows there’s a crisis.

But as for any reaction to López Obrador’s acute case of denial — nada. No thundering indignation from the ambassador. Not a peep, much less a tweet, about the Mexican president’s mockery of U.S. concerns or his attempt to blame Americans for the despicable drug cartels that manufacture fentanyl and control its flow to the U.S.

It was the same only months ago as another crisis — involving refugees thronging the Mexico-U.S. border — made headlines. Then, too, Salazar was nowhere on the radar. We even urged Gov. Jared Polis to help flush him out of hiding at the time. Alas, nothing came of it.

Salazar’s near-invisibility also seems to reflect the Biden administration’s overall dithering on the matter. It has appeared unwilling to confront a Mexican presidency that, in turn, is known for a “hugs, not bullets” strategy that avoids confrontation with Mexican drug cartels.

Meanwhile, a fed-up U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham held a news conference last week, saying he wanted “to unleash the fury and might of the U.S. against these cartels.” He wants the U.S. military, “to go after these organizations wherever they exist.” 

Would Salazar stay silent on that, too?