Mexico takes a new turn in the drug fight

Peña Nieto will create a paramilitary force to relieve military in crime war

Mexico City -
Forensic experts collect evidence around the body of Venezuelan model Daisy Yenire Ferrer Arenas that was found lifeless on a dirt road
Forensic experts collect evidence around the body of Venezuelan model Daisy Yenire Ferrer Arenas that was found lifeless on a dirt road EFE

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced on Monday night a new strategy in the government's ongoing battle with drug traffickers that includes a complete restructuring of the country's law enforcement agencies and the creation of a paramilitary police force.

Reversing strategies introduced by his predecessor Felipe Calderón that incorporated the military into the crime fight, Peña Nieto said that he will draft the governors of Mexico's 17 states and Mexico City's federal district to come up with their own plans to reduce the number of murders, kidnapping and extortions that have increased since the war against traffickers began in 2006.

"There will be no improvisation" in security efforts or in government policy, Peña Nieto said in a nationwide address.

The national gendarmerie force will be made up of 10,000 officers and its structure will mimic the Spanish Civil Guard, said officials from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) administration.

After presiding over his first national security council meeting - Peña Nieto took office on December 2 - the president presented a six-point plan aimed at making Mexico safer. Among the major points is the recruitment of all government agencies to take part, including social services departments, which will help victims and their families with legal and social issues.

"Between 2006 and 2011, there were 10.6 million crimes committed in Mexico"

Peña Nieto also plans on presenting legislation that will help protect crime victims and the families of those missing.

"Between 2006 and 2011, there were 10.6 million crimes committed in Mexico," said Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, the president's chief of staff, during a briefing with reporters. "Eight out of 100 are reported to the authorities, and only 15 percent are actually solved, and punishment is handed down in only one case out of 100."

According to figures released by Mexico's National Statistics and Geographical Institute (INEGI), crime cost the private sector some 115.2 billion pesos last year, equivalent to 0.75 percent of the nation's GDP.

The governors of various states came out in favor of Peña Nieto's plan as soon as he announced it. "We need to do something to stop this ongoing media coverage of violence, which is not Mexico's way of life," said Chihuahua Governor César Duarte.

But security expert Alejandro Hope said he had his doubts. "All that was announced - the regionalization of law enforcement, crime prevention programs - has been tried in the past and failed."

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