Saturday, November 24, 2012

Agencia Federal de Investigación - Genesis

This is the way it was a decade ago.
This article, circa 2002, illustrates how and why the changes in the law enforcement section of the Procurador General de la República (PGR) took place. Historically, Mexican law enforcement organization has been organized and reorganized as scandals rock the organizations. Irrespective of the scandal, US Law Enforcement never seems to undergo the same level or rebranding and reorganization.
As you read this article (if you make it through the tome), you should keep in mind that the AFI was disbanded in 2012 - due to corruption issues. 
What I would like you to take away from this is the question - What would it take to create a law enforcement agency in Mexico that was not almost completely corrupt? 
Major Changes in the Mexican Attorney General's Office 
Federal Agency of Investigation Replaces the Federal Judicial Police 

by CW4 Thomas S. Davidson II, US Army 

During his presidential campaign, Vicente Fox made no specific public statements concerning the restructuring of Mexico's various police and public-safety agencies, except to state unequivocally that he would be sponsoring a budget for public safety of at least 3% to 4% of the GNP in order to combat the major crimes of kidnapping, drug trafficking, robbery, and alien smuggling.1 Yet, within nine months of his inauguration, he effected major and significant changes in the Attorney General's Office (PGR) (Procuraduría General de la República).2 This paper examines the beginnings, missions, subordination, coordination, personnel, and future plans for the Federal Agency of Investigation (AFI) (Agencia Federal de Investigación). The tasking and mission overlap of the Federal Preventive Police (PFP) (Policia Federal Preventiva) and the AFI will be covered in another paper.

On 1 November 2001, by publication of an Executive decree in the Official Gazette of the Federation, the Federal Judicial Police (PJF) (Policía Judicial Federal) was effectively disbanded. In its place stands the AFI.

During the AFI's inception period, there appeared to be much resistance among career PGR administrative personnel in regards to the elimination of the PJF and the acceptance of the AFI. Of particular note is that the first mention of the AFI on the official PGR web site is 7 November 2001 -- only after the publication of the new organization in the Official Gazette of the Federation. Until late 2001, the only items that had been published on the web site were announcements for the training academy and crime bulletins dealing with arrests made by AFI personnel. However, since the middle of February 2002 and as the AFI becomes more and more a reality for the PGR mid-level and career personnel and the Mexican people, more and more AFI material is appearing on the PGR site. During February and March 2002, a number of interviews were given to the media by various high-level PGR personnel concerning the AFI. 

Official documentation detailing the missions and objectives of the AFI is extremely limited. This stands in stark contrast to the relatively new (1998) Federal Preventive Police (PFP) (Policía Federal Preventiva), which is subordinate to the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública) and has its own subordinate web pages. 


The first official, semi-public mention of the dissolution of the PJF and the institution of the AFI was made by Federal Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha during a four-hour meeting of all Deputy Federal Prosecutors and PGR department heads on 16 February 2001. It was during this meeting that Macedo also announced that during the Fox administration there would be major changes in the organizational structure and mission of the PGR. The AFI is perhaps the most powerful new agency in the remodeled PGR.

On 19 February 2001, the Mexican newspaper La Jornada published an interview based upon a 16 February 2001 meeting with Alfonso Navarete Prida, the director for the Attorney General's office for Interagency Cooperation and Development. During this interview, Navarete detailed the various changes to take place within the PGR. Among the many changes planned were the disbanding of the PJF, the initiation of AFI operations in June 2001, and the types of controls to be used within the AFI to prevent corruption.5 

  • The closest thing to official documentation to the AFI mission can be found in the Presidential Decree on 1 November 2001, which authorizes the director of the AFI to do the following: 
  • Consolidate into the AFI all personnel currently carrying out PGR police functions; 
  • Coordinate the execution of arrest and detention orders, serving of subpoenas, and other judicial orders; 
  • Coordinate, supervise, and evaluate the results of AFI investigations and, as necessary, share the results with other units; 
  • Participate in the various conferences and meetings concerning Operations and Tactical Intelligence.6 
During the first six months of 2001, the press and media speculated that the AFI was to have a number of criminal investigators and that it would be dedicated primarily to fighting organized crime.7 Much reference is made to the AFI's being created to resemble the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. In fact, FBI and DEA agents have provided training in Mexico and in the U.S. to PFP and AFI personnel.8 Another major area of cooperation between the U.S. agencies and the Mexican agencies (AFI and PFP) is the interchange of sensitive information of common interest, usually related to drug and human trafficking.

During the 19 February 2002 press conference Navarete stressed that with the advent of the AFI, the policies governing investigations and evaluations of individual PGR agents will change. There will now be a central police intelligence structure and databases for tactical information and operations. Each agent will be assigned a task or mission on a daily basis. Agent reports will be submitted daily, thereby enabling supervisors to track not only individual accomplishments and activities but also the unit's as a whole.10 

The AFI will be the primary force for crimes dealing with kidnapping, money laundering, illegal immigration, ecological crimes, drug trafficking, and any other crime as specified by the attorney general. The AFI will also be responsible for coordinating with the Secretariat of the Navy concerning the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) (Sistema Automatizado de Identificación de Huellas Dactilares) 11. The Secretariat of the Navy in coordination with the Secretariat of Public Security is the primary agency for the maintenance and distribution of the AFIS.12 

The AFI will be the primary Mexican police agency for working with INTERPOL and will provide the necessary link between INTERPOL and all other police elements in Mexico.13 


In the Presidential decree of 1 November 2001 President Fox officially reorganized the PGR and required the various elements to work in conjunction with the AFI. By issuing a decree -- rather than changing the constitution -- Fox gave the new agency an official standing as a general directorate rather than as a ministry. 

Under this decree a number of new PGR elements were established while other elements had their missions changed. All of the new and reorganized elements are directed to work hand in glove with - if not under the direct supervision of - the AFI. The new elements created include: four separate agencies dealing with election fraud and crime; the Police Planning Directorate; the Police Investigation Directorate; the Tactical Analysis Directorate; the Police Deployment Directorate; the Regional Directorate; the Special Operations Directorate; and the Inspector General Directorate. Other established PGR elements which are required to work closely with the AFI are marked with an asterisk (*) on the chart titled "Major PGR Elements and National Systems," as shown in Attachment 1.14 


In April 2001, the first Initial Police Training Course for 468 future AFI investigators was begun at the PGR's Training Academy (ICAP) (El Instituto de Capacitación) in the state of Mexico. The course was a three-month course using a modified PJF training program with three areas of specialization - investigative techniques, tactical analysis, and operations. This adaptation became the basis for the second and future AFI training course. The three specialization courses have a common core, including morals and ethics -- a component that had not been in the original PJF course. A total of 460 students successfully graduated from the initial course.15 

The next class of 543 AFI investigators graduated on 20 September 2001, and President Fox gave the commencement speech. The graduating class consisted of 495 men and 48 women with an average age of 26. All were high school graduates, 408 had some college, and 33 had bachelor degrees.16 

The classes received by these agents, in contrast to the first class of AFI agents, were new and not merely a restructured PJF course. In addition to a strict background investigation, the new agents underwent intensive training in weapons, computer technology, criminal photography, and human rights. The PGR and the ICAP work closely with the National Institute for Criminal Science (INACIPE) (Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Penales). The INACIPE is a Mexican-government sponsored institute that enjoys a good international reputation as an institute of higher learning for criminology. Students may take individual classes or even attain a Doctor of Science in Criminal Law or Criminal Science. The ICAP and the INACIPE will be the subject of another paper. 



Current AFI personnel levels are estimated to be at 2,500. This number includes technicians, administrative personnel, and agents. As of February 2002, the AFI had permanent, dedicated facilities in 15 Mexican states. These facilities contain new national computer systems including the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and the National Balistics Identification Database (Banco Nacional de Elementos Balisticos). AFIS terminals are located in the Baja California, Baja California Sur, Coahuila, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Yucatán, and Mexico City. The Ballistics Database currently has 6,820 samples - all from AFI agent weapons. The AFI is also maintaining a national criminal tactical intelligence database to which the army, navy, PFP, and other PGR elements contribute.17 


The AFI is a Fox initiative. He and his administration planned, formed and legalized the AFI. The PFP is a holdover from the Zedillo Administration. Fox's presidential rival during the last campaign, Francisco Labastida Ochoa, Secretary of the Interior in 1998, had been tasked by President Zedillo with the development of the PFP. 

During his campaign, it appeared as if Fox had planned to eliminate the PFP. Since his inauguration, however, he has supported the PFP under the auspices of the Public Security Secretariat. The Fox administration appears to be using the PFP more as a reaction force, where the use of the military in a police role would be politically detrimental. A prime example is the occupation of the campus and arrest of demonstrators at the Autonomous National University of Mexico by the PFP in 2001. 

Although there has been no publicized display of interagency rivalry between the PFP and the AFI, the overlapping missions will eventually cause problems among the agents and legal jurisdictions. 


The AFI is now operating as an official government entity. It has already begun to receive substantial support both in the government and among the civilian populace. Only time will reveal what impact the AFI will have on the Mexican society. If the AFI and the PFP are successful and eliminate rampant corruption in their ranks, they will have effectively established a new baseline and role model for all federal, state, and municipal law enforcement agencies. 

Once this new baseline is established, the U.S. drug enforcement, police, and border agencies can expect better and more complete cooperation from the new Mexican federal agencies.


1. "Puntos principales del programa de Vicente Fox" [Vicente Fox' Primary Election Platform], 30 November 2000 (13 March 2002). 

2. "Fox en Vivo, Fox Contigo, del 22 de septiembre de 2001" [Fox Live, Fox with You, 22 September 2001], 22 September 2001, Art=1892&Orden=Leer (14 March 2002), Section: Weekly Radio Address . 

3. "Diario Oficial de la República" [Official Gazette of the Republic], 31 October 2001, (13 March 2002), Section: Procuraduría General De La República. 

4."En junio operará la agencia que suple a la PJF" [The agency replacing the PJF begins operating in June], 19 February 2001, (11 March 2002). 

5. "Informe de Acciones y Resultados: Procuraduría General de la República" [Actions and Results: Federal Attorney General's Office], 23 May 2001, http:// (14 March 2002). 

6. Ibid. 

7. "Fijan nuevos criterios para frenar el descrédito de la PGR" [New Criteria To Stop Public Scorn of PGR], La Jornada, 17 February 2001, (12 March 2002). 

8. "Cooperación Más Estrecha en Materia de Seguridad entre México y Estados Unidos" [Closer Cooperation between Mexico and the US in Security Matters], Borderlines 84, Volume 9, No. 11, December 2001, spanish/2001/bl84esp/bl84seg.html (13 March 2002).

9. "Informe de Acciones y Resultados: Procuraduría General de la República."

10. "En junio operará la agencia que suple a la PJF."

11. Ibid.

12. "S/2001/1254...en virtud de la resolución 1372..." [S/2001/ Conjunction with Resolution 1372...], 27 December 2001, S1254.pdf (14 March 2002), UN Security Council.

13. Ibid.

14. "Diario Oficial de la República." 15.Ibid. 

16. "El Presidente Fox Encabezó la Ceremonia de Graduación..."[President Fox Presides over the {AFI} Graduation Ceremony], Boletín No. 627/01 20 September 2001, http://, (11 March 2002). 

17. "Entrevista que concedieron los Licenciados María de la Luz Lima Malvido..."[Interview with Maria Lima Malvido], 7 February 2002, http:// (12 March 2002).

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