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Column 101314 Brewer

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mexico's Long Term Crime Suppression and Methodology Paradigm

By Jerry Brewer

Within a matrix of beliefs and perceptions exhibited between former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and current President Enrique Peña Nieto, each of their specific approaches and processes have failed to reach a sustainable achievement in violent crime reduction.

Within their combined tenure of nearly eight years of service as Mexico’s president, their interaction of police and military forces ranging in nomenclature from drug wars, transnational organized crime, to criminal insurgencies has apparently failed a dominant discourse towards coherent alternatives for success.

Calderon aggressively fought what was described as a drug war, with a primary focus on drug cartel hierarchy and drug seizures. President Peña Nieto started his term in contrast to Calderon by stating he wanted to fight crime rather than track down drug lords. He also stated that he wanted to focus “public attention away from the violence and on to the economy.”

Yet now, it appears clear that the toll of death and violence is not being conducted solely by the so-called “drug lords.”

Many people are being killed simply as victims of violent street crime, or migrants robbed and killed and dumped in landfills, as well as drug related causes and transnational rival competition for basic criminal turf. Recent headlines have demonstrated the criminal carnage against student protesters.  

There is obviously a culture of corruption, including violent crime and death with impunity, which continues well beyond both Calderon’s and Peña Nieto’s combined eight years of governance.

It may be that the true focus of Mexico’s long tenured and perplexing dilemma has been its failure to define the problem as a criminal insurgency rather than a drug war.  After all, drugs have been an issue for decades through Mexico as a pipeline from South America to a voracious multi-billion dollars U.S. illicit drug demand.

Mexicans have seen their military and police battling the heavily armed opposition, often times being deliberately ambushed and attacked head on. Many of these attacks and related violence were done to intimidate security forces, limiting their ability to respond to attacks. The lack of government presence created a leadership vacuum which the organized criminals quickly filled in many regions.  Suffice it to say that they emerged as third generation transnational gangsters possessing extensive asymmetrical warfare capabilities.

There were claims that Mexico was nearing failed state status, as terror was instilled with traditional terrorist modus operandi of beheadings, bombings (IEDs), war-like weapons, and the propaganda by the transnational organized criminals who have routinely murdered scores of journalists, local and state government officials, police chiefs, military and others. Too, they had left messages of terror by displaying their bloody human carnage from viaducts and in other public locations as graphic reminders that they were in control and feared no one. Evidence of a failed state could also be asserted in many efforts of Mexican citizens and others to immigrate to the U.S. as they flee their homelands.

An inability to enforce the rule of law, as well as opposing power, can than meet or supersede military and police as the legitimate use of physical force within a state’s territory; this obviously being manipulative illicit power that can leave a state unable to provide security for its population and increasingly influence government policy through intimidation, killing, or buying off officials.

President Peña Nieto knows that his previous pledge of focusing public attention on the economy will not make the violence go away. He too has now shown the strategy of going after the criminal cartel hierarchy. This may be, in part, due to an article in November of 2013 in Mexico City’s Reforma newspaper reporting that as many as 250 mayors have been “threatened and pressured” by organized crime groups.  In addition, in 2013 a study claimed that “up to 200,000 people in Mexico” could be involved in death squads. This concern would certainly require a highly proactive, aggressive and strategic focus, as well as a significant policing infrastructure.

This reality could have given President Peña Nieto some clarity of President Calderon’s early assessments and engaging of crime kingpins that demand a modern day enforcement model of intelligence, tactical strategies, laws, containment, and coordinated fluid state interdiction. 

There are those who believe a “kingpin strategy,” that has weakened a government, sown disorder and intimidated a nation, won’t make a difference, this as an increasing number of small fragmented criminal groups rely on crimes such as kidnapping, extortion and contract killings, among others, for revenue.

In an effective criminal insurgency there are movement leaders, as leadership is critical for guidance, coordination, and power with corrupting influences to manage their strategic objectives. These tall mandates require a structure that is well beyond fragmented cellular-like groups that essentially act independently. 


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

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