Forces: May 25, 2004


Corruption continues to be Mexicos number 1 obstacle to effectively combating drug trafficking. The problem has become so bad that it has effectively paralyzed the Mexican governments ability to enforce drug laws, interdict drug shipment, and arrest narcotics traffickers. The severity of the problem was highlighted earlier this year when the Mexican state of Morelos suspended an entire state police force for protecting narcotics shipments and cutting deals with drug traffickers. All 553 officers in the Morelos state ministerial police force were suspended after it was discovered that police officers were not only allowing drug traffickers to do business in Morelos, but were actively involved in trafficking themselves, transporting shipment of cocaine in police cars. 

Corruption has become so widespread in Mexico that it has made enforcement of the law nearly impossible without dramatic restructuring of the law enforcement system. To this end, President Vincente Fox has made anti-corruption programs a key issue during his presidency and has launched a number of nationwide initiatives to help clean up Mexicos police forces. In one such operation, the entire special anti-drug police force had to been disbanded because the corruption within its ranks was making it impossible to effectively combat drug dealers. The decision to disband the force came after federal soldiers raided the anti-drug forces headquarters in 11 of Mexicos 31 states. The organization, like all of Mexicos police forces, had been linked to aiding narcotics traffickers in the past and had at least 200 of its officers under investigation for corruption. The raid and subsequent disbanding of the force was one of the biggest strikes against police corruption in recent years. Despite the widespread use of the military in anti-drug operations, the military, particularly the army, also suffers from massive corruption. In 2002, all 650 Mexican soldiers who made up the Armys 65th Infantry Battalion were held on-base while being investigated for links with opium and marijuana growers in their area. The unit was later disbanded because it had been so heavily influenced by local drug traffickers that it was incapable of carrying out its military duties. Thus, there are few institutions that are even slightly honest enough to tackle the drug traffickers and the fact that those agencies specifically designated to tackle the drug problem are the most corrupt has been a source of major concern for the government for years. 

Despite the widespread dishonesty of police officials, some progress had been made in the drug war. Since declaring that involvement in drug trafficking would not be tolerated in Mexicos police forces, President Fox has launched a nationwide attack on police corruption and narcotics traffickers. One of the more positive results of this initiative has been the unprecedented level of increased cooperation between Mexican and United States law enforcement personnel is stopping the flow of narcotics across the US-Mexico border. Such increased cooperation, along with tightened security along the US side to deter terrorists from crossing, has led to a major increase in drug seizures along the border. This increased cooperation is especially evident around the town of Tijuana, where as much as 80 tons of cocaine passes through the border every year. According to Mexican authorities, more than 3 tons of cocaine were seized in the Tijuana area in 2002, twice as much as in previous years. However, the main obstacle to progress remains the widespread corruption. 


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