Saturday, December 8, 2012

Peña Nieto proceeds with plans for national gendarmerie, asks Mexico's congress for $116 million dollars funding

Money will be used to create 40,000 member paramilitary force and add 35,000 Federal Police agents

*Updated May 8*
Guadalajara -
The day after he was elected president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto told the New York Times that he planned to create from scratch a federal gendarmerie, which would focus on providing security in the countryside and the targeting of key organized crime bosses (Enrique Peña Nieto's Manifesto makes New York Times). A week later his chief quarterback for national security, Colombian General Óscar Naranjo, said much the same thing during a press conference dealing with strategy for the 72 month old drug war (Security consultant elaborates on "new" Mexican drug war strategy - but is it?).

Just a week into his new job, president Peña Nieto made good on his promise yesterday when he asked the House of Deputies to budget $1.5 billion pesos for the new law enforcement body. At the current exchange rate that represents an investment of over $116 million dollars in the planned 40,000 strong gendarmerie, which will be modeled after Colombia's as well as the Italian Carabinieri. In those nations which have them gendarmeries are generally utilized as paramilitary forces, to supplement or even replace local law enforcement in certain operations.

At the same time the president intends to expand Mexico's Federal Police force by 35,000 officers.

The Peña Nieto administration's domestic security budget requests for 2013-2014 represent a 47% increase over Mexico's 2012-2013 domestic security outlay.

Mexico's local and state police forces are currently being "verified" - weeded of corrupt officers and employees through exhaustive background checks and the administering of polygraph tests to almost half a million agents - as well as retrained and re-equipped to prepare them for the rigors of the drug war, which Peña Nieto has said he will not abandon. The strategy of replacing local police with federal military forces while the former are being vetted was implemented by former president Felipe Calderón (Honesty checks for Mexican local, state police proceed at a snail's pace). Peña Nieto plans to stick with that approach, at least initially (Peña Nieto transition team: Mexican military will stay on streets to help wage drug war).

Although the new president is increasing their ranks, the Federal Police remain under a cloud of alleged corruption. In June two officers shot and killed three others as the latter moved into arrest them. The horrifying gun battle unfolded in front of hundreds of terrified travelers in a busy terminal of Mexico City's International Airport. The government said that the two shooters, both of whom remain at large, were involved in a narcotics network which shipped "huge quantities" of drugs from South America to the United States and Europe through the airport. The victim officers were working on an undercover investigation squad when they were gunned down. A third Federal Police officer who was involved with the trafficking ring but did not participate directly in the shootings was arrested in July.

Dec. 9 - More than 100,000 personnel are currently assigned to operations targeting organized crime in Mexico - 59,000 soldiers, 16,000 marine and navy units and 30,000 Federal Police officers. So far there is no indication that president Peña Nieto intends to withdraw any of them from the street.

Mar. 25 - Mexico's Secretary of Government has announced that the initial funding of 300 million pesos for the gendarmerie nacional will be made available in July, with the balance of 1.2 billion pesos delivered through the year. The paramilitary force will begin operations with 10,000 officers drawn from existing ranks of the army, marines and Federal Police. Some of those units are probably being trained for their new roles now, although the government has declined to confirm such, claiming the information is privileged under national security laws.

May 8 - Mexico's National Gendarmerie will make its first public appearance during Independence Day ceremonies on Sept. 16, the Dept. of Government announced today. The federal paramilitary force is currently 10,000 strong, but will eventually reach 40,000. Almost all the agents were drawn from the Mexican army (85%), with the remaining 15% recruited from marine and naval units. The National Commissioner of Public Security said Federal Police will return to a more traditional law enforcement role.

Aug. 27 - Delay in arrival of federal gendarmerie units; Peña Nieto claims major progress in drug war
Mar. 11, 2013 - Enrique Peña Nieto's three smart decisions
Dec. 24 - Christmas Eve narco violence wracks Jalisco and Michoacán, leaving 7 police officers dead
Dec. 23 - Mexico's new PRI government seeks huge increase in domestic security budget
Dec. 19 - Enrique's challenging homework

Dec. 8 - Extreme narco violence marks Peña Nieto's first week
Dec. 2 - Narcos send Enrique Peña Nieto a message: nothing has changed
Aug. 19 - Federal Police reassign hundreds of Mexico City officers to weed out corruption
July 8 - Mexican voters got suckered on drug war
June 28 - Mexico offers $5 million pesos for "traitor agents" in slaying of three fellow officers
June 27 - "Narco Feds" operating out of Mexico City airport sent drugs to U.S., Europe
June 25 - Three dead in Mexico City International Airport shooting
June 11 - New York Times got Mexican candidates' drug war strategies wrong

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