On Dec. 17, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and members of his Cabinet presented the new administration's plan for reducing nationwide violence and crime caused by Mexico's drug wars. Pena Nieto outlined six points, and within those points, he mentioned the creation of a national gendarmerie and the consolidation of state police forces under the federal command, neither of which was a surprising move.
By bringing the federal police under the control of the Interior Ministry, acquiring oversight of state police and substantially bolstering the ranks of federal law enforcement, Pena Nieto is addressing the challenges that arise for municipal and state law enforcement as they try to combat national level criminal groups without closer federal coordination. Increasing the number of federal police or establishing an additional law enforcement body also allows law enforcement in Mexico to better confront violent groups that act in several geographic areas. This could lead to greater intelligence sharing, funding and coordinated actions, though the outline lacked details, such as timelines and precise courses of action.
In 2010, there were approximately 32,000 federal police, 186,000 state police and 159,000 municipal police — and correspondingly little federal coordination, creating significant challenges in law enforcement operations against nationally operating criminal organizations. Each state and municipal law enforcement body can confront nationally operating crime groups only within their respective geographic boundaries.
Increasing the federal government's coordination of law enforcement responsibilities at a state level will likely benefit the government's ability to deal with violence attributed to nationally operating organized criminal groups. But many of the problems afflicting Mexico's law enforcement remain — primarily corruption and the lack of adequate funding or training.
Furthering the ability to coordinate law enforcement operations in Mexico would help the government confront violent groups on an inter-regional scale, but it would not solve these other outstanding issues. Additionally, the national gendarmerie or unified command has yet to be established and would probably not be operational in the next year. It is unlikely any tangible restructuring will take place in the short term since the process for establishing a command over state police has yet to be expressed in detail. Therefore, while plans to expand federal law enforcement oversight in Mexico could stem the violent actions of the cartels, the plans likely will not have an impact on security until after 2013.
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