Monday, April 5, 2010
Policing Mexico and its Cart before the Horse Woes
By Jerry Brewer
World media attention towards
Mexico is quite often subjugated to what is perceived to be more overpowering newsworthy events. Yet the old media cliché of “if it bleeds it leads” still has a soft place in the heart for
aspiring markets. However, the graphic and war-like carnage in Mexico, along
with its deep suffering citizenry, cries out for much more than mere sympathy.
There continues, ad nauseam,
the verbal battle of just “who” is winning the battle in Mexico. Is it the military or the drug cartels? It is clear that most of the local police defenses stood down quite some time ago. Many police chiefs have been run off, killed, tortured, and bought off; along with
their police officers. Those that valiantly stand with a belief in their symbols
of justice and a creed of public service within their hearts and homeland must spend every waking hour looking over their
The superior weaponry, expertise,
and tactics of the brazen, but capable, drug cartels quickly forced the growing proactive militarization initiatives by President
Felipe Calderon. What choices did he have?
He was faced with grenades being tossed into police departments; police being killed and beheaded with impunity; boisterous
and rodent-like narcoterrorists declaring their superiority to enforcing strategies and the rule of law; and nurturing anarchy.
The terrorist-model strategies
used by organized criminals and their enforcement arms have continued to mature since they were seen in Nuevo Laredo back
in 2005. Those violent events gave quick notice to law enforcement of just how
heavily armed the criminals were, with military-type armaments.
These paramilitary-styled insurgents
continued, paving the way into over 230 U.S. cities and giving rise to the immense growth of gangs (soldiers for the cause)
in the U.S.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
recently led a U.S. delegation to Mexico for talks with Mexican officials on the escalating problems facing both nations.
Drug demand reduction studies, community policing initiatives, strengthening communities, and “shifting from military-style
hardware support” were touted as agenda items. Concerns of potential “spillover”
violence into the U.S. were discussed, with what one wonders was done with a straight face.
What was to ensue, within days
after the Clinton delegation’s meeting with Mexican officials, were requests by U.S. officials to secure portions of
the U.S. border with Mexico utilizing National Guard troops. This after Arizona
rancher Robert Krentz was killed on his property about 25 miles from the Mexican border.
Narcoterrorists have stepped
up the violence, taking on Mexico’s military head-on with violent assaults. Mexican
military officials have captured armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and explosive devices.
And the Mexican military are becoming more and more frequent victims of cartel ambushes.
Events, both recent and previous,
clearly show the need for military enforcement and interdiction against the cartels.
Too, these proactive and tactical strategies must be strategically planned and well-coordinated, for this is a formidable
enemy of the state. Simple saturation methods by enforcement officials of violent
sectors or areas, such as those planned for Ciudad Juarez and other cities, must be done in a way that does not simply sweep
the narcoterrorists to neighboring jurisdictions.
Much of the battle confronted
by the military does in fact raise serious questions. They were not created to
be a police force, and they certainly lack much of the expertise of an arm of the criminal justice system. Criminal investigations, crime scenes/forensics; as well as other prosecutorial style mandates are necessary
components of crime interdiction. However, the painful reminders of reality set
in with previous surveys of Mexican citizens as far back as 1999, in which 90% of those surveyed stated they had little or
no trust in the police.
Viable solutions with the appropriate
engagement of the narcoterrorists require the administration of justice. Mexican
drug lords and traffickers fear deportation to the U.S. for their offenses. The
Mexican judiciary must find acceptance of U.S. statutes such as conspiracy and continuing criminal enterprise as serious deterrents. Too, U.S. agents should be working collaboratively with Mexico on their soil, and
with bestowed powers and capacities in assisting undercover; with informants; and other operational acts to build prosecutable
cases resulting in extended incarceration.
Solutions can’t be
simply accomplished without knowing the problems. Mexico is the sanctuary of
the Mexican drug cartels. Those “officially” in the trenches fighting
this battle for two homelands deserve support and a receptive ear to their true needs. The
Mexican police function can be built again with the proper organizational strategies, professionalization and oversight, and
with due regard to cultural understanding and related needs of the people. However,
the urgent need now is to get the death and violence under control.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global risk mitigation firm
headquartered in Miami, Florida. His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.