Mar 29, 2012

United States: Mexican police, heavily infiltrated by narcotraffickers

El Universal. Translation: Americas MexicoBlog. The state and local police in Mexico are heavily infiltrated by organized crime, said the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield on Thursday.

In an awards committee hearing of the Lower House, William Brownfield said the state and local police seem to be part of the problem not the solution, but said that "the federal forces have overcome that".

Brownfield attributed the progress to the emphasis that U.S. cooperation through the Merida Initiative has placed in training and clearing the federal forces in the past three years, as well as the start in 2011 of training more state and local agents.

"As a federation, as in the United States, 90% of prosecutors and courts in Mexico are state and local entities. Infiltration is a very serious problem, but in federal institutions it’s actually less so than in state and local ones, "he said.

In response to a question from Democratic Representative Adam B. Schiff on the murder of five policemen in Ciudad Juarez on Wendesday night, only a day after leaving the hotel where they had stayed for a month for protection, Brownfield said that intimidation is “obviously a large part of the problem.”

“Mexico will eventually have to decide how it’s going to solve the problem. With the Colombian model, they’ll spend a lot of money on bodyguards,” Brownfield said after stating that the Colombian National Police spent about 10 thousand agents, between 8 and 9% of its total budget.

“Will they build separate communities for police, prosecutors, and judges so that they can provide them with protection? Will they (with state and local agents) do what they’re currently doing with federal agents, rotating every three to six months so they can’t be identified or attacked?” asked the official.

However, the diplomat expressed his optimism regarding long-term security in Mexico because “we need not create a paradise to say we were successful. All we have to do is make business (of illicit drugs) more expensive by 5 to 10%. When we get there, economic laws will come into play and force the drug traffickers to go elsewhere.”

Authorities in Ciudad Juarez ordered 2 million 500 police officers to stay in hotels in February after gunmen ambushed and killed five policemen. The next day came new messages posted across the city signed by the Juarez cartel that they intended to assassinate an officer per day if the police chief did not resign. Read more.

(Translation by Michael Kane, Americas Program) 

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