Insight Crime, 5/24/2012
The leading candidates in Mexico’s presidential election all emphasize the need for a more centralized police force in order to combat organized crime, but the case of Tijuana suggests that strong local police may be far more effective in reducing drug-related violence.
Enrique Pena Nieto (PRI), the candidate favored to win the Mexican Presidency has argued for the creation of a paramilitary force of 40,000 former soldiers to combat drug cartels in the country. While this force is built, he would continue to use the Military to maintain order and combat drug cartels. Josefina Vasquez Mota (PAN) has stated that she will continue the efforts of the current president Felipe Calderon (PAN) and emphasize the role of the national police force. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the leftist PRD has stated that he too would continue to rely on the military in the fight against organized crime. In a recent debate he referred to the military as “indispensable,” but wanted to establish a more experienced national police force so that the army could return to its barracks.
Many have argued that pacts were created between the police and cartels to eliminate the Teo faction. This may have been the case. But if Mexico’s leaders have an interest in reducing violence as they claim to, Tijuana appears to be a model. Local police forces in coordination with the military were able to eliminate the most violent cartel — possibly with the support of less violent cartels — and thus reduce overall levels of violence. A similar strategy arguing for the targeting of the most violent Mexican cartels on a national scale has been put forth by Eric Olson of the Woodrow Wilson center.