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Column 082514 Brewer

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mexican President's Security Initiatives are Boldly Promising

By Jerry Brewer

As U.S. pundits and charlatans discuss and opine on the “militarization of police” in this nation, in the face of increasing street violence and a lack of respect for the rule of law, Mexico is taking a bold stand to confront the past and present, and its ongoing nightmares.

In Mexico, more than 60,000 people have been killed in violence in the past six years, with thousands more having disappeared without a trace. Furthermore, reportedly only 4 percent of the crimes have been solved.

Strategies to engage these local and violent transnational organized criminal insurgents within the Mexican homeland have now reached a critical focus of strategic planning and subsequent deployment of 5,000 members of the newly created Gendarmerie. Last week President Enrique Peña Nieto formally commissioned the Gendarmerie as a new division of the Mexican Federal Police.

Mexico and the nations in the northern cone of Central America have graphically realized the threats of crime and violence in vicious trails of bloody carnage. Countless journalists, members of the military, police, and government officials have been brutally confronted head-on, tortured, killed, and many are still missing.

The U.S. has not been immune to the violence of insurgent crime that has paved its way into more than 300 cities from south of the border. Related inner-city crime for control of operating areas, as well as what is described as traditional violent crimes of murder, forcible rape, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, permeate jurisdictions. As an example, in Indianapolis, Indiana, a single zip code was “responsible for 40 percent of [the] homicides” in 2013.

The purpose of a criminal insurgency is to provoke a state of terror in the general public and other persons that intimidates a population, and/or compels a government to abstain from performing any act that is contrary to the crime agenda. Mexico knows this extremely well.

The massive and superior weaponry and tactics being utilized by these organized criminal insurgents and narcoterrorists far exceed the skills, knowledge and abilities of the "protect and serve" police cadre that routinely patrol the streets and respond to calls for service.  In fact, the police cultural nuance of the last couple of decades, known as Community Oriented Policing, has been graphically challenged by the throat.  

No policing jurisdictions, made up of local, county, and state law enforcement officials, were ever created, organized or deployed to face the threats of today. Yet implied conventional and sanctioned police procedures and authority, on both sides of the U.S. border with Mexico, are now redefining the role of state, county, and local law enforcement.

The terrorism-model strategies used by organized criminals and their enforcement arms have continued to mature since they were seen in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico back in 2005. Those violent events gave quick notice to law enforcement of just how heavily armed the criminals were, with military-type armaments.  The U.S. Border Patrol was one of the first to recognize the superior weapons and tactical abilities and espionage-like tradecraft modus operandi being used by Mexican drug cartels, along with some local police in southern Arizona and West Texas.

Since October 1, 2004 there have been well over 200 assaults on U.S. agents along the border with Mexico, including multiple shootings that have been recorded.  As well, reportedly US$50,000 in bounties was placed on Border Patrol agents, as well as state and local police officers, by the criminals.

Yet, some people question the vulnerable nature of U.S. police officials and their need to possess better protection and equipment to protect the homeland — as well as their own lives.

The creation of the Gendarmerie by Mexican President Peña Nieto is his highest-profile initiative in the realm of public safety. This strategic approach is also focused to have a significant impact on businesses operating in Mexico, and his efforts on issues he deems critically important to Mexico's future, like education reform, banking reform, energy reform, and fostering the Mexican economy.

The previous lack of a competent and effective policing infrastructure, and related institutional weaknesses within Mexico’s criminal justice system, have been degrading much of the president’s agenda.   There are certainly challenges ahead in the fight for the rule of law, as the massive beast of organized crime seems to always reinvent itself to meet its obstacles.

The intensely amorphous nature of this 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.

Policing Mexico requires a monumental transition in thinking and strategizing beyond simple public opinion. Human rights must remain a priority, as well as a respect for human life and dignity. Geographical control and territorial dominion sought by criminal insurgents must be denied at all costs.

Can a 5,000 manned Gendarmerie make a difference?  It must. While proactive and highly effective patrol, investigative, and intelligence-based strategies must be the mandate, uniform criminal procedures and penal code must strongly emerge from the ashes. 

The command staff of the Gendarmerie is in a unique position to establish territorial control over strategic regions for the president’s security and economic initiatives. The appropriate evolving professional development of that cadre of potential leaders can demonstrate how smaller numbers of human resources can have a significant impact. It has been done before. 

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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 www.cjiausa.org.

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