Is The Mexican Military Corrupt Quora Site Www.quora.com – Soldiers patrol a main avenue in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, last month. The army and federal police have swarmed the violence-hit city in recent months as the government steps up its crackdown on drug traffickers. Thomas Bravo / Reuters
President Felipe Calderon is rapidly escalating the Mexican military’s role in the war on drug traffickers, deploying nearly 50 percent of its combat-ready troops along the U.S.-Mexico border and across the country, while retired military officers take command of local police and the military supplies civilian authorities with automatic weapons and grenades. .
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US and Mexican officials describe drug cartels as a growing drug insurgency. The four major narco-states average a total of 12 murders per day, characterized by ambushes, fights, executions and decapitated bodies left by the roadside. In villages and towns dominated by human traffickers, daily life now takes place against a combative backdrop of round-the-clock patrols, pre-dawn raids and roadblocks manned by masked young soldiers.
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Calderon’s deployment of some 45,000 troops to fight the cartels represents a historic change. Previous administrations have relied on Mexico’s traditionally weak police agencies to fight the traffickers who route 90 percent of the cocaine entering the United States. Cartels corrupted local governments and reached tacit agreements with the national government, limiting violence while drugs continued to flow.
After Calderon became president in December 2006, he told Mexicans that the use of the military against the cartels would be limited and brief. But it is now the centerpiece of his anti-narcotics strategy, according to interviews with senior U.S. and Mexican officials and dozens of people on the front lines of the war.
“It can be traumatic to have the military controlling public security, but I’m convinced we don’t have a better alternative, even with all the risks it entails,” said Monte Alejandro Rubido, a senior public security official overseeing the overhaul of Mexico’s police force.
The army’s withdrawal depends on the success of police reforms, the government says. US and Mexican officials predict that soldiers will patrol the streets for years. In many regions, the military has become the law. But instead of quelling the violence, it appears to have been drawn further into a deepening quagmire of cartel rivalries, local political disputes and blood feuds.
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In the southern state of Guerrero, the military stepped up security last year, killing several alleged drug traffickers and arresting dozens. Then followed a two-month period in which nine soldiers were kidnapped and beheaded in the nation’s capital, four police officers were burned in a grenade attack near a beach resort, and a former mayor was shot 24 times before 1,000 people packed into the coronation square. city beauty queens.
Mexicans greeted the unprecedented deployment of federal troops in their communities with a mixture of gratitude and horror.
“There are many opinions. I personally feel safer seeing the army on the streets,” said Denis Gonzalez Sánchez, a 29-year-old city administrator in Petatlan, a Guerrero beach town of 30,000 where the army began patrolling last year after three dozen gunmen massacred the family of a former the mayor accused of ties to human traffickers. “Many people feel the exact opposite: They say the military makes us less safe.” But I always think it’s better to know that they are there to protect us, to watch over us, when there is no one else to do. that.”
Mexican officials say the cartels operate on a $10 billion annual budget earned from drug sales in the United States; according to US government estimates, they employ 150,000 people. This year, the Mexican government will spend $9.3 billion on national security, a 99 percent increase since Calderon took office.
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Since December 2006, more than 10,100 people have been killed in the clashes, including 917 police officers, soldiers, prosecutors and political leaders, according to Milenio, a Mexican media organization. At the same time, human rights complaints against the military rose 576 percent, according to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission, including allegations of illegal detention, enforced disappearances, rape and torture.
Calderón and his advisers have described the military deployment as an emergency measure as he seeks to reform Mexico’s local, state and federal police. He promised that the soldiers will return to their barracks when the new police forces are ready. That process could last until the end of his six-year term in 2012, he said recently.
The government is trying to vet and retrain 450,000 officials, most at the state and municipal levels, using lie detectors, drug tests, psychological profiling and financial reviews to root out corruption and incompetence. Almost half of the 56,000 policemen who have been checked so far have failed.
The government also enters into agreements with each of Mexico’s 31 states and its federal district of Mexico City, for the military to supply automatic rifles, high-caliber ammunition, grenade launchers and fragmentation grenades to state and municipal officials who receive federally issued security clearances. “I cannot hand over modern weapons systems to a police officer who has not met all the requirements,” said Heriberto Salinas, a 70-year-old retired military general who commands Guerrero state’s police force. “It has to be someone who has been vetted and evaluated.”
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Mexican authorities are increasingly turning to retired military officers to lead the police, counting on their discipline and training to resist the corrupting influence of cartels and their ties to the military to help coordinate joint operations. In addition to Salinas, who came out of retirement at the request of Guerrero’s governor, six of the state’s eight operations coordinators are former soldiers. At least a dozen governors have appointed retired generals as state police commanders, and hundreds of former military officers serve at the municipal level. The Assistant Secretary for Strategy and Intelligence of the Mexican Federal Police, Javier del Real Magallanes, is an active general.
Last month, Calderon sent an additional 5,000 troops to the border city of Ciudad Juarez, and the military took control of the police department after traffickers forced the police chief to resign by threatening to kill one of his officers every 48 hours.
Anthony P. Placido, the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s intelligence chief, called Calderon’s decision to use the military “an extremely bold step.”
“This was not a traditional law enforcement problem that could be solved using traditional tools,” Placido said in an interview in Washington. “They got away with it. If the D.C. police were engaged in an operation against these criminal adversaries, and they faced groups of 30 to 50 of these criminals, and they were all carrying AK-47s and grenades and the bodies were falling at the rate they are falling, I guess you might have to call the National Guard. I don’t think it’s drastically different from what we would do if faced with a similar situation.”
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U.S. and Mexican officials familiar with Calderon’s thinking said a confluence of events led him to declare war on traffickers. During the presidential campaign, US and Mexican officials were independently tipped off that a powerful Gulf cartel had made a deal on Calderon’s life, according to a source with direct knowledge. Although the tip was never confirmed, it was taken seriously because of the cartel’s ties to the Zetas — veterans of the feared Mexican special forces who served as assassins for the organization. US authorities believe the Zetas broke away in recent months to form their own cartel.
The US and Mexican governments also received information that drug money — one US official estimated at $5 million to $10 million — had flowed into the 2006 mayoral and congressional races. Calderón and his advisers viewed the influence of such money as a serious threat to democracy in the country, which was ruled for decades by a single political party – the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI – until Calderón’s predecessor, Vicente Fox, was elected in 2000.
“That was a factor that was taken into account, especially the municipal elections, because from there they could gain control over local police forces,” Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexico’s attorney general, said in an interview. “That’s why we couldn’t wait. The threat is assessed based on many different factors, this one is relevant, but not the only one.
Between Calderon’s election in July and his inauguration in December, a spike in drug violence signaled the savagery to come. In September, a heavily armed gang apparently linked to the La Familia drug militia raided the Sun and Shade discotheque in Uruapan, a favorite haunt of dealers in Michoacán, Calderon’s home state. The men threw five severed heads onto the dance floor, leaving a note that read: “Everyone should know, this is divine justice.”
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“One of the most critical elements in the decision to use the military was the amount of violence between the election and when we took power,” a senior adviser to Calderon
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