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Column 121712 Brewer

Monday, December 17, 2012

Government Forces and Mexico's Fight against Organized Crime

By Jerry Brewer

Defending the Mexican homeland in the months and years ahead will require a steadfast conceptual exploration in confronting the essence of organized crime itself, for it is a massive beast that always reinvents itself to meet its obstacles.

To those that live on Mexican soil and attempt to survive the criminal insurgent violent onslaught that has lingered for nearly a decade, the process of change must be a top priority of newly inaugurated President Enrique Peña Nieto.

It is time for the pundits, media, and other so-called experts of opinion-based lore on the Mexican dilemma to stand down on the play by play and structure of the "drug cartels" and who is in charge and not, and focus on a common and deadly enemy of transnational organized crime responsible for a badly bruised and bloody Mexican nation.

This intensely homicidal enemy is simply a diverse cell-like conglomerate of organized criminal groups with a common greedy profit agenda that move to areas of lesser control and resistance and still maintain the ability to corrupt and strike any region and inflict massive harm. To acknowledge superiority or give credence to one narcoterrorist group or another is analogous to waving a banner of recognition -- much like the goal of radical Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups who thirst for world attention and symbolic power.

Must enforcement and interdiction efforts be concerned with the nomenclature and hierarchy of specific cartels and/or diverse organized criminal groups? Successful policing concepts (beyond simple prevention) are most centrally regarded as those that hunt people as opposed to illegal contraband/commodity.

Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon's relentless push and disrupting of the profit making agendas of Mexico's drug gangs forced many of their operations into Central America, and eventually to the far southern region of the hemisphere in Argentina. Calderon's initial education of "cartel versus cartel" philosophy seriously misfocused his interdiction strategies. He would eventually realize that cancer-like organized crime cells, that would often splinter and form new alliances, possessed grenades, bullet resistant vests, M-60 machine guns, anti-tank rockets, and related paramilitary armaments. Moreover, he learned that any of these groups would directly and aggressively confront, ambush, and cold-bloodedly kill police and military personnel with impunity.

The "cartel's" hierarchies have been ritually dethroned in many ways. As well, Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman and other leaders of these groups are generally not the ones leading the charge and firing the weapons, nor are they the ones personally moving and guarding the contraband or committing other violent crimes. Those players are the recruited enforcers, assassins, former street gang members, and other dregs of society that will carry no symbolic flag of unity or perpetual loyalty. 

Subsequent failures of the new administration to strategically plan and place priorities against the amorphous nature of the threat itself from the organized and superior armed and trained criminals could become permanent and catastrophic.  Too, the empirical nature of this organized crime insurgency graphically demonstrates armies of people, government officials, rogue intelligence services, and others that facilitate this criminal empire.  These acts extend dominance from open warfare to clandestine subversion.

You can't effectively confront this enemy within your own borders and effectively ignore its power and reach internationally.

The defense of Mexico alone by Mexican authorities is clearly a necessity that poses significant challenges.  The problems and solutions are much beyond a public safety model and fundamental policing reforms such as community policing initiatives and drug demand issues.

Many of the significant challenges inherent are lack of resources, and the necessary skills and structure to adequately confront the sophisticated nature of this enemy insurgency. The susceptibility of police to be corrupted, and sound internal investigative strategies and oversight of the law enforcement effort, must become a monumental achievement in establishing a greater rule of law in Mexico. 

A unified policing command structure for Mexico's 31 states and Federal District is needed for the strengthening of law enforcement capacities at all levels. As before, a well-armed and trained federal police and military is a necessity to overcome superior armed attacks.

Viable options in terms of supporting police, the military and security efforts during this climate of fear include the creation of a "gendarmerie" in Mexico.  This force being one that Peña Nieto vowed to create during his presidential campaign.

Argentina has demonstrated a strategic and effective use of its gendarmerie, which was created in 1938.  The Argentine National Gendarmerie has strength of around 70,000, and they are defined "as a civilian security force of a military nature." They maintain a functional relationship with the Ministry of Defense and the Interior Security System.  Although they have policing support missions that include human rights abuses, their "main missions are providing security for Argentina's borders and providing security for places of national strategic importance."

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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 http://www.cjiausa.org/.


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