News Around the Republic of Mexico | December 2005
|Crime-Torn Mexican 'FBI' Investigates 1,500 Agents|
Mexico City - Mexico created an elite force of federal agents modeled on the FBI four years ago, but now one in five members of the agency is under investigation for committing crimes, the attorney general's office said on Sunday.
In a report obtained by Reuters, the attorney general's office said 1,493 members of the Federal Investigation Agency, or AFI, are under investigation "for probably committing crimes," and 457 of those currently face prosecution. The AFI employees about 7,000 agents.
Founded by President Vicente Fox in 2001 in an attempt to end rampant corruption among Mexican police, the AFI is increasingly seen as being infiltrated by the country's powerful drug gangs.
The agency became the center of a scandal this week after the attorney general's office said it had charged eight agents in the kidnapping of four presumed drug hit men and the videotaped killing of at least one of them.
The eight agents were arrested in August after investigators got hold of a copy of the homemade DVD showing four battered and bloody men confessing to being members of the Gulf cartel of drug traffickers. One of them was then shot in the head.
Authorities say the federal agents charged were in the pay of a rival gang led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who is battling the Gulf cartel for control of lucrative drug routes along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Five of the agents implicated in the case, which has shocked crime-hardened Mexico, were released by a judge for lack of evidence. Mexico is seeking their recapture. Three other agents wanted for the crime are on the run.
Local press has also linked the agency to the 2004 murder of Enrique Salinas, brother of former president Carlos Salinas. The attorney general's office denies any link to the killing.