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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkEditorials | Opinions 

Politics Must Not Offer Mexican Drug Lords Safe Havens
email this pageprint this pageemail usJerry Brewer - mexidata.info
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December 23, 2010



Once again attention of a valiant battle, to wrest the considerable control drug trafficking organizations hold of Mexico, and against other transnational crimes and threats, becomes the arena’s political football game. With a death toll that since 2006 exceeds 30,000 persons, who is really to blame?

Some Mexican politicians believe that dishonor must go to President Felipe Calderon.

Mexico’s political apparatus must work to achieve common ground on understanding the real threats to the Mexican homeland.
There are those political pundits who blame Calderon’s failures “when he lost Congress in July 2009,” essentially entering his lame-duck phase. President Calderon recently remarked that progress may be difficult because “they block the ability to get a parliamentary majority.”

The frightening words of political knee-jerk actions were echoed when other lawmakers said they were wary of anything that could be perceived as giving Calderón more power.

Does anyone truly and rationally believe, with some degree of semblance or evidence that the drug cartels were better left alone to conquer the Mexican homeland with impunity and not be challenged? Would there have been less death or a more harmonious assimilation of organized and transnational crime and insurgency had they been left alone?

Going back to some of the early facts of what has been described as “Mexico’s drug war,” we must revisit some of the early evidence of this war that began as a so-called “conflict.” During the watch of President Vicente Fox, a gun battled occurred on July 28, 2005, in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, between "armed criminal groups (with) unusually advanced weapons." This since the combatants used an arsenal that combined automatic weapons, bazookas and hand grenades.

Actually, hundreds of different caliber shells were subsequently found at the war zone-like scene, along with AK-47 rifles, handguns and ski masks. And if that is not disturbing enough, a state policeman who asked not to be identified said that investigators found numerous photographs of municipal police officers at the residence involved, an apparent hit list of officials sentenced to death. Further intelligence revealed that each of the photographs listed the officer's name and assigned location, along with maps to their homes.

The Mexican presidential spokesman at the time, Ruben Aguilar, said federal efforts to stop the violence in Nuevo Laredo “had been successful.” A week later another city official of Nuevo Laredo, City Councilman Leopoldo Ramos Ortega, was shot dead as he innocently sat in his truck. Ramos also chaired the council's security committee.

A false complacency began as a man named Omar Pimentel was then selected as Nuevo Laredo’s police chief, replacing Alejandro Dominguez who was killed in a hail of gunfire on his first day on the job. Pimentel stated that he himself was “not looking for bad guys to fight, nights on patrol, (or) raids” – and no crime scenes for him. “I have simply come here as a political figure for the Mayor.”

In Nuevo Laredo nearly 200 people were murdered in 2005, and other victims simply vanished. What was just as appalling is that nearly 20 police officers, including the chief of police and city councilman, had been gunned down.

President Calderon’s administration inherited an existing “drug war.” The sophisticated armaments, tactics and the aggressive nature of a previously, practically, untouched drug cartel hierarchy began to diabolically confront local police, political officials, and the military head-on with superior firepower. Local police became useless as many of their rank and file simply fled. Local Mexican law enforcement was no match for this power directed against them.

Under President Calderon’s direction the Mexican military and federal police became increasingly successful in carrying out operations to remove top cartel leaders. Mexico's armed forces number about 225,000, and some of their military roles include not only national defense, but narcotics control. The Mexican Congress passed legislation in 2009 expanding the investigative and intelligence capabilities of the Federal Police, which itself has expanded from 20,000 personnel to approximately 34,000.

Mexico’s political apparatus must work to achieve common ground on understanding the real threats to the Mexican homeland. Failure to do so and act strategically could certainly result in a failed state.

This century, transnational organized crime groups have flourished throughout the world, copying legitimate business practices, forming strategic alliances and pursuing joint ventures. They are threatening the autonomy of states. The infiltration and forging of alliances with corrupt government officials remains a critical component.

With corruption and organized crime as close allies for success, the Mexican government must continue its efforts to reorganize local police forces to effectively coordinate with the tactical power and expertise of the military and federal police. The welfare and safety of Mexico is at stake, and dependent on elected officials to do the right thing.

Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.



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