Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Roots of Organized Crime

La Jornada
Marco Rascón

Organized crime in Mexico today did not form itself in a vacuum, its structure originates from the police and security forces of the Mexican State. That is why this drug war is so bloody and extends to all levels of government and society.

Daniel Arizmendi, alias "El Mochaorejas" (ear cutter)

Ex State of Morelos Judicial Police agent and ringleader of an infamous kidnapping ring that cut off body parts to expedite ransoms. The "supercop" who led the effort to arrest him, State of Morelos police commander and CISEN commissioner Albert Pliego Fuentes alias "el Superpolicia", was convicted and imprisoned for organized criminal activity and distribution of cocaine for the Juarez Cartel.

Organized crime in Mexico today did not form itself in a vacuum, its structure originates from the police and security forces of the Mexican State. That is why this drug war is so bloody and extends to all levels of government and society.

Over the past 30 years, corruption, impunity and the political and discretionary application of justice converted every police officer and every public safety agency into a criminal entity. Whether willing or otherwise, every Mexican police officer, every ministerial (investigative) official, to survive as such, had to break the law and abide by the codes of special privileges granted by the ruling political power, the PRI.

Police were segregated from society and their use in an ideology of political and social repression led to corruption. The political class for decades, and clearly after 1968 and 1971, found in this corruption a vein of gold and overindulged itself on it. The use of laws, rules and regulations for the purpose of extortion was institutionalized.

The last 30 years of the PRI regime incubated the virus of organized crime by training hundreds of policemen in their dirty war against political enemies, systematically using torture, abduction and disappearances and murder, and enriching the participants in these crimes. The way of charging the regime for their services was impunity, which transformed them into partners and protectors of drug dealers, robbers and car hijackers. From Arturo “El Negro” Durazo, to Daniel “El Mochaorejas” Arizmendi, hundreds of police have been criminalized.

Over time, the police realized that the repression of political opponents, union activists, students, urban movements or communists gives stability to the regime, but it is not business. Thanks to the impunity, the machinery was oiled with kidnapping for ransom and the extortion of small and large businesses. The insecurity created by gangs of police and former police officers is business.

By the 1990’s the kidnapping industry had polluted the entire judicial system from the federal level down to the municipalities. The purchase of patrol cars, weapons and communications equipment increase the profits from their own terror. Prosecutors, Attorney Generals and Governors work as part of organized crime.

The reforms of the 90s, meant to fight crime, brought only more power and impunity to the corrupt, out of control cops. The legalization of wiretapping, liberalization of police raids and the witness protection program were instrumental in a clash over the profitability of crime. The new, modern police hunted the old; the spiral of vengeance became never ending.

That is why in this drug war there is no front line or trust. The police are not an army fighting crime but factions fighting against each other.

When the kidnappings reached the circles of power and victims with influence applied pressure, there were more than 2000 bands of kidnappers in the country connected to or arising from the police. A first reaction to clean up the mess was to appoint Army and Navy officers as chiefs of police. In short order they were all contaminated.

When the PRI regime ended and Pan arrived, the breakup of the old regime resulted in an increase in crime caused by police impunity in every state. To make matters worse, since the mid-1990s, traffickers stopped paying in U.S. dollars and began paying with drugs, in particular cocaine. Mexico went from being a transit country to a consumer nation.

Then came the lucrative business of drug pushing and illegal drug “retail” stores in the neighborhoods, bars and schools, reaching all sectors of society. This new business encouraged the war over profits, gangs and territories.

The old PRI regime’s reform of a more independent judiciary and the disruption during the PAN changeover increased the war within and outside the police forces, creating paramilitary movements that lead to mass executions.

Today the use of force without any strategy against the violence and insecurity reveals the decomposition of the Mexican state at all levels and institutions. Hence the public perception that the security forces and criminals are equally dangerous, as they are one and the same.


  1. The drug war is also a by-product of Mexico's long term neglect of its poor, thus concentrating too much wealth and power within a super elite, and a corrupt government/political system that was easy for the narco taking. Moreover, because of Mexico's income equality, the narcos found it easy to bribe and hire the poor to do their bidding. Now Mexico is at a crossroads of either crumbling into disarray, or reforming its society and institutions to achieve its great potential.

  2. It sounds like the USA has neglected its poor too, at one time during the 30's we the USA went thru what Mexico is going thru now.The Chapo Guzman is like Al Capone.

  3. Great article,you summed up the tragedy of present Mexico.The question is can Mexico pull itsself out of this death spiral? And HOW?

  4. And it all boils down to what my grandpa used to say all the bad guys sought refuge in the P.R.I. Mexicos' ruling party for 70 years.

  5. Mexico needs a Glenn Beck to call its people back to God, truth, honesty, integrity and righteous thinking.

  6. Anonymous said...
    "Mexico needs a Glenn Beck to call its people back to God, truth, honesty, integrity and righteous thinking."

    Mexico needs a clueless cable TV talk-show blowhard to help weather its problems? You've got to be kidding (which I suspect the poster was). The problems of Mexico, at least with regard to the drug cartels, boil down four words: Guns In, Drugs Out. The guns, at least the overwhelming majority that can be traced, come from the US. The drugs overwhelmingly go to the US.

    To quote Pogo, the old comic strip character: "we have met the enemy and he is us."


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