Thursday, November 22, 2012

PGR - The Changing Face of Drug Enforcement in Mexico

President-elect Pena Nieto has been working collaboratively with President Calderon Hinajosa recently to complete key changes/reforms into place within Procurador General de la República, PGR, (Attorney General's Office) which began in 2009.  

AFI Disbanded

On Thursday, July 26, 2012, Agencia Federal de Investigación, AFI, officially disbanded. The AFI had been patterned after USGOV's Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The AFI replaced the Federal Investigations Agency, which was believed to be a nest of enforcers for the Sinaloa Federation Drug Cartel - but the AFI was itself, very troubled. The Attorney General's Office reported in December 2005 that 1,500 of 7,000 AFI agents — nearly 25% of the force — were under investigation for suspected criminal activity and 457 were facing charges. In November 2008, Rodolfo de la Guardia García, the No. 2 official in the AFI (from 2003–2005), was placed under arrest as investigators looked into the possibility that he leaked information to the Sinaloa Cartel in return for monthly payments.
Policía Federal Ministerial (PFM) (Federal Ministerial Police)  

The formal transition of both agents and responsibilities from AFI to the PFM occurred by a decree passed on April 26, 2012. The new police agency is housed under Procuraduría General de la República, PGR, and is similar to the U.S. Marshals Service. PFM manages:
  • Witness Protection
  • Compliance with court orders
  • Monitors Centro Federal de Arraigo
  • Locates fugitives through liaison with Interpol
  • Maintains security over court-related activities

Note that the PFM is out of the drug enforcement businesses that created such opportunities for corruption within the AFI.

Subprocuraduría de Investigación Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada (SIEDO) 

The Office of Special Investigations on Organized Crime (OFDI) is now officially The Office of Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime (SIEDO). The official name change took place on July 23, 2012. However it's still unclear what their role will be within the reorganized Attorney General's Office. With a staff of 200, they are much the same as USDOJ's Organized Crime Strike Force, but the cartel issue in Mexico is vast, and accounts for roughly 25% of the Mexican economy (drug business and legitimate business owned or controlled by organized crime) by some accounts.
SIEDO was formed in the wake of a 2003 scandal that found agents in the Attorney General's anti-narcotics prosecution office, FEADS, actively working for or protecting Mexican drug cartels. As a result, SIEDO was formed with 117 agents whose backgrounds and psychological profiles were intensely researched, in the hope that agents prone to Cartel corruption would be weeded out before they could enter the force.
The Heart of the Matter

Policía Federal has doubled in size in recent years, and has been promoted by both American officials and President Felipe Calderón as an important tool against organized crime. However there is a snake in Eden. The entire force at the Mexico City airport was replaced after two officers, believed to have been involved in the drug trade, killed three colleagues in the food court of a terminal in June. 
The federal police have “been held up as a shining example of police reform” during Mr. Calderón’s tenure, “but recent indications suggest that there are problems of integrity in its ranks,” said David A. Shirk, a scholar who studies Mexican justice at the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego. (NY Times)
President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, who will take office on Dec. 1, has proposed folding the federal police agency into the Gobernacion (The Department of the Interior), rather than keeping it under independent cabinet level leadership. One can only suspect this has to do with corruption concerns.

The US State Department reports indicate that just 2 percent of people arrested on drug-trafficking charges are convicted. So we're back to the problem with Procurador General de la República and the courts.
“One of the biggest challenges for the next government is making the P.G.R. work,” said Shannon O’Neil, an expert on Mexico at the Council on Foreign Relations. “During the Calderón administration, this is probably the element within the state security apparatus that has fallen behind, losing resources and momentum to the federal police. But if you can’t successfully prosecute the guilty — and free the innocent — you can’t strengthen the rule of law in a real, lasting way.” 
The way forward in Mexico would seem to be an avoidance of drug related arrests and prosecutions and a change of focus. This may reduce corruption and actually give the rule of law some teeth. (you simply ignore the laws that are problematic) Maybe then, the Attorney General of Mexico can rise above the 2% success rate.

How will USGOV take the news?

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