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Column 011816 Brewer

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sine qua non, Mexico must
restructure its Security
By Jerry Brewer
Early into his presidency,
Mexico's Enrique Peña Nieto
pledged an earnest attempt to
battle traditional street crime
and violence, in lieu of
countering narcotics and
transnational organized
criminal strategies.
His initial thoughts were to
reject former President Felipe
Calderon's "kingpin"
strategies, as well as what
could be perceived as the U.S.
and Mexico's "war on drugs."
What went wrong with that
formula, if anything?

Perhaps his biggest failure
was to not simply utilize a
sensible set of priorities in
defining the problem and the
enemy, which is clearly a
criminal insurgency. To
engage strategically required a
flexible framework of
fundamental and expanded
law enforcement interdiction
activities. And interdiction
initiatives need to be fluid,
balanced, and coordinated to
achieve effective containment
and necessary efficiency.
What has resulted is a
predicted and expected headon battle against the drug
trade and its transnational
organized networks that are
supplying a voracious U.S.
illicit drug habit estimated at
US$80 billion.
In that regard, Mexico's
military and law enforcement
entities have been successful
in taking down many at the
top levels in the drug cartel
hierarchies. In contrast, when
not engaging in pursuing
kingpins and the drugs
themselves, they were often
forced to relocate across the
country to respond to other
critical areas of violence,
shootings, and death due to
acts of crime.

President Peña Nieto was
correct in believing that it was
critical to reduce the overall
level of violence in the
country. Plus, he soon learned
that drug interdiction and the
basic principles of policing a
homeland require delicately
balanced and shared law
enforcement objectives.
Mexico’s relatively new
Gendarmerie was originally
set to focus on rural,
industrial, and business crime
that extended throughout the
country and was “strangling
commerce in many regions”
with extortion, kidnapping,
and thefts. The current 5,000
allocated manpower has also
been reported being sent from
one corner of Mexico to the
other under emergency
deployments in spikes of
Another of Mexico’s critical
dilemmas is its southern
border of 514 miles with
Guatemala. The constant
deteriorating factors of death
and violence in the northern
triangle of Central American
nations is a serious threat to
Mexico and all points north.
The breakdown and situation
regarding a truce between the
area's two largest and rival

street gangs (MS 13 and
Barrio 18), most specifically
in El Salvador, have been
described as “reaching levels
not seen since the civil
war.” El Salvador is currently
known as the hemisphere’s
murder capital.
The government of El
Salvador has also been
ineffective, and unable to
formulate a functional
security plan. MS 13 is a
transnational organized crime
organization that is clearly
sophisticated with heavily
armed capabilities.
Criminal insurgents in Mexico
and along its southern border
have become uncommonly
adaptive in their skills of
killing, corrupting, and
engaging police and the
military head-on with equalto-superior armaments.
Beyond drug trafficking, they
also excel in oil theft,
“wildcat iron mining,”
extortion, rackets, and other
acts of violence.
An alarming aspect of their
modus operandi is the entry
into local politics, and their
involvement in the election
process. Nearly100 mayors
have been murdered in
Mexico in the last decade. As

well, much of the media is
regularly threatened in a
nation “where rising violence
against journalists impedes
rigorous investigative
A curious aspect of U.S.
government assistance to
Mexico and many Central
American nations, in police
training, may relate to cultural
Many U.S. law enforcement
policing concepts and
programs being introduced in
those nations, albeit being
successful in numerous cities
of the U.S. (and many not so),
due to cultural differences,
claims of racial profiling,
tension within those areas,
and other claims of anxiety
and tension because of police
presence, may not be timely
for those nations south of the
U.S. border.
Populations within those warlike regions are more likely to
be secured with strategic
counterinsurgency operations
to neutralize heavily armed
criminals, as well as give
local governments a starting
chance at legitimacy.
Many Central American cities
and states suffering heavy

violence and criminal controls
may not be ready to achieve
safe streets at this time, and
they might not benefit
immediately from the
philosophy of community
oriented policing, problem
oriented policing, and related
community-based programs.
And of course there is the
history of many of those areas
that have never felt safe with
local police, and have seen
routine corruption at the
highest levels as part of their
day to day process.
Systematic use of partnerships
and problem solving
techniques of some of the
initiatives do not match reality
when the community is under
threat by those with automatic
weapons and grenades, and/or
roving bands of thugs that the
local police fear or are on
their payrolls.
Mexico’s challenges require
effective regional saturation
policing infrastructures within
their homeland. Not
necessarily more police, but
the importance of how those
police perform through
training and mandate. The
military will not be able to
serve the law enforcement and
investigative role of police.
There must be a

transformation from national
security to a proactive law
enforcement role with
effective oversight to gain a
homeland’s trust and
community engagement to
achieve results.
Mexico’s current cultural and
socioeconomic maladies
clearly reflect their true needs
and their vulnerabilities.
Governments trying to help a
struggling nation to stop this
culture of death and violence
with impunity, must recognize
that public trust will be the
cornerstone of victory.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of
Criminal Justice International
Associates, a global threat
mitigation firm headquartered
in northern Virginia. His
website is located at
Jerry Brewer Published