Mexican Police Major Part of Drug Problem

by Mike Miller November 11, 2011

No one will deny that drugs are ruining their country. Mexico is spending on its federal police forces like never before as it fights powerful drug cartels, trying to overcome a long history of corruption, abuse and incompetence.

Since taking office in late 2006, President Felipe Calderon has pumped up the public security ministry's budget threefold, growing federal police ranks from 6,000 agents to 35,000 now.

Financial aid from the United States has helped pay for top-of-the-line equipment and training aimed at creating a model force to outperform inefficient and underpaid state and municipal officers, often accused of working for drug gangs.

But the results have so far not met the government's hopes, and reports of abuses across the country are rising.

Complaints of rights violations by the federal police - including arbitrary detention and torture - last year reached almost 600, quadruple those filed in 2006, according to the national human rights commission, or CNDH.

The charges often do not go very far.

Between December 2006 and June 2010 there have only been 41 investigations into accusations of torture and of those, just one went to trial.

Widespread abuse charges reflect a deeper problem in Mexican security forces - sub-par investigative skills and low salaries that can be a hook for wealthy drug gangs looking to put police on their payrolls.

Corrupt local cops in the border city are a key part of the drugs trade and helped form La Linea, the enforcement arm of the Juarez cartel.

Recognizing the weaknesses of the police, Calderon pulled in the army and the marines to take a leading role in the drugs war.

They have captured or killed several senior traffickers, but Calderon is well aware that strong police work is critical for any kind of lasting solution.

He proposed a unified police command to dissolve municipal forces that fail background checks or hand them over to state authorities, but the checks are behind schedule.

Reforms passed by Congress in 2008 to introduce oral trials and improve Mexico's justice system are also moving slowly.

The drugs war has killed more than 44,000 people since Calderon became president.

With no end in sight to the violence and his efforts to clean up the police falling short, his conservative National Action Party, or PAN, is way behind in early polls ahead of the presidential election next July.

Mexican drug cartels have gained way too much power. With police on the take, the government has an even bigger task of trying to curtail the power of these cartels. Does anyone have a suggestion to halt cartel power?

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