Latin American Herald Tribune
MEXICO CITY – The drug-related violence that has claimed 35,000 lives in Mexico over the past 4½ years will begin to subside by 2014 or 2015, federal Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna said Wednesday.
Mexico has made “substantial” progress in the battle against organized crime since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and militarized the struggle with drug cartels, Garcia Luna said in an interview with Televisa television.
Citing the experience of Colombia and major cities such as New York, he said it takes “seven or eight years” to see results once authorities confront crime “with full force.”
In regard to ending the armed forces’ role in law enforcement, as demanded by domestic and international human rights organizations, the secretary said it would be possible to do so within three years of the Mexican Congress’ approving Calderon’s plan to overhaul and streamline the country’s myriad police forces.
Mexican states and municipalities must have adequate numbers of “trained” police to take over from the military the responsibility for public safety, Garcia Luna said.
Calderon’s scheme calls for the country’s roughly 1,600 police departments to be consolidated into 32 agencies – one for each of the 31 states and the Federal District.
Garcia Luna vowed to resign if the government ever heeded suggestions to negotiate with the drug cartels in the hope of reducing the violence.
Asked who the government regards as the most dangerous drug lords, he mentioned Heriberto Lazcano and Miguel Treviño of Los Zetas and Sinaloa cartel bosses Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman and Ismael Zambada.
Guzman escaped from a maximum-security prison more than a decade ago and is said to be hunkered down in the mountains of his native Sinaloa state, where the fugitive Zambada granted an interview last year to the editor of leading newsweekly Proceso.