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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Something is Broken: Mexican Justice

Borderland Beat

The Road to Mend the Mexican Justice System

The Mexican criminal justice system is in crisis.  Mexico is facing historic rates of criminality and violence, mostly because of the State’s inability to punish those who break the law. For understanding where the challenges of criminal justice system lie, it is fundamental to know what happens in the process from the time a crime is committed until it is punished, or not; which authorities are involved and where the bottlenecks occur. In this process, the statistics are an indispensable tool for measuring the institution's performance at each phase of the process. Unfortunately, the available public data on security is difficult to compile, compare or systematize. Acknowledging that the first step for solving the problem is understanding it, CIDA worked with the publicly available data. The document below, presents 27 figures for aid in understanding  the country’s insecurity problem. Only some of the data is featured. To enlarge any chart below in "Statistics," simply click on the image.

U.S. Shifts Mexico Drug Fight

Military Aid Plummets as Washington Turns Focus to Bolstering Legal System

MEXICO CITY—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets her Mexican counterparts at a security summit in Washington Tuesday to discuss the next phase in the drug war: how to train the judges and prosecutors that will be trying suspected drug lords.

The Merida Initiative, the U.S.'s $1.9 billion assistance program to Mexico, began mostly as a means to buy military hardware like Black Hawk helicopters for Mexico. But over the past two years, it has entered a new phase, in which purchases for the Mexican military are taking a back seat to measures to mend the branches of Mexico's civilian government.

The former director of Colorado's penitentiary system has trained more than 5,000 Mexican prison officials in recent years. Mexican jurists are running mock trials with visiting American judges to prepare for a transition to oral hearings that will replace Mexico's enigmatic closed-door meetings where sentences are handed down.

"Different things have come to the fore at different times, but strengthening the rule of law in Mexico is the area that's crucial right now," says Roberta Jacobson, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Reuters: Police escort prisoners in Mexico in August. 
U.S. aid efforts are turning toward legal and police training.
Officials in both countries increasingly believe the root of Mexico's problem lies in creating an honest police force, professional judges and a prison system comparable with that in the U.S

The challenges are harder to measure but will take center stage at the so-called High-Level Consultative Group on Tuesday, where Mrs. Clinton will be joined by Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Attorney General Eric Holder and top officials from Mexican President Felipe Calderón's cabinet. The two sides will also discuss topics ranging from border security to seizing assets of drug cartel members in the U.S.

"Our efforts to confront transnational crime on both sides of the border benefited from a clear understanding that we had to multitask," says Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhán.

While Mexico has had success at catching criminals, it's had less luck in putting them behind bars—the country has a meager 2% conviction rate for most crimes. A new test came just last week with the capture of Jorge "El Coss" Costilla, the alleged boss of Mexico's powerful Gulf Cartel. He is the 23rd in Mexico's "37 Most Wanted" list to have either been killed or captured under Mr. Calderón; after six years of fighting, the original heads of Mexico's drug gangs are mostly gone.

That reality is being reflected in how U.S. aid is being spent in Mexico. Assistance to the Mexican military has nearly collapsed, with counternarcotics and security aid falling from a height of around $529 million in 2010 to $67.5 million planned for next year.

Meanwhile money meant for strengthening institutions from law schools to prisons doubled in the last year, to $201.8 this year from $105 million in 2011.

Training Mexico to handle its own struggle could be more cost-effective for the U.S.—total aid this year to Mexico is at $330 million, less than half its number 2010—in large part because training police and prosecutors is less expensive than financing a military with big purchases like helicopters.

One example both sides are touting has to do with Mexico's courts, which are undergoing a radical overhaul. Unlike the U.S., most trials in Mexico take place in closed proceedings where judges aren't present nor even meet the defendant. Attorneys and witnesses gather in a cubicle where a clerk takes notes and prepares a file, later sent to the judge for a decision. There are no juries.


In 2008, Mexico's congress approved a change to have trials be conducted orally—with attorneys arguing in an open courtroom before a judge—with a complete rollout by 2016. The overhaul is hoped to boost conviction rates and guarantee fair trials.
Since the new system will be similar to the way trials are conducted in the U.S., the government has sent legal experts to train their Mexican counterparts in everything from witness protection to plea bargaining. So far more than 7,500 Mexican judicial personnel have received U.S. training at the federal level, and more than 19,000 at the state level.

A delegation from the U.S. Supreme Court met with Mexican judges in taking oral testimony, a first in Mexico. Members of the U.S. Bar Association are training lawyers.

"There was a skepticism that Mexican judges had coming into this, for this new role, but now they have enthusiasm," says John Feeley, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere. "Judges are going to be the linchpin in this."

Another key area is the Mexican police. Experts believe most drug-related crime in Mexico is never reported because the populace mistrusts the police. Such problems were on full view last month when members of the Federal Police wounded two U.S. government employees after opening fire on their car in the hills outside of Mexico City. The police say they mistook the car for that of fugitive kidnappers they were looking for.

The U.S. is trying to avoid incidents like that in the future by taking a hand in training the police themselves.

A Mexican police academy in the central state of San Luis Potosí is now partially staffed by American law enforcement agents who have trained more than 4,500 federal police. Mr. Feeley says the program is being expanded to develop similar academies that will work with state and local police in other Mexican states. Spanish-speaking U.S. agents from border states now work with the Mexicans and the U.S. even hired the former director of Colorado's state penitentiary system to give classes to Mexican corrections officers.

Still, both the U.S. and Mexico agree that no amount of training will solve crime problems if corruption remains in institutions such as the police and judiciary.

Despite the collaboration, one reality can't be avoided when the leaders meet Tuesday: Mexico still has a long way to go in this second phase of the drug war.

Eric L. Olson, a Mexico expert at Washington think-tank the Wilson Center went to an oral trial in Morelos, one of the first adopters of the new system, and says the hearings reached an awkward moment where a judge was scolding the attorneys for wanting to read from sheets rather than argue properly.

Mr. Olson says the proceedings were a step in the right direction, even if there are missteps. Still, he says: "Both sides have always had difficulty defining what the criteria for success are," he says. "That has not happened yet."


Thank you DD!
Thank you Chivis!


  1. Doesn't the Mexican justice system have a 100+ year tradition of needing to be'fixed' in the minds of many?

    Mexico has been seen and experienced by both Mexicans and non-Mexicans as the land of the big mordida...

    Maybe that tradition needs to go...

  2. @8:53 if mordida was the only problem!
    so many countries have antiquated, lop-sided justice systems that need major overhauls.
    But the focus here is Mexico and the changing face of Mérida Initiative. Money spent for hopefully the betterment of Mexicans.

    That is it before we all get cynical and start bashing each other over our heads for being hopeful.

    @Juandos is correct about the 100+ tradition of needing to be "fixed"

    The article and links show steps being taken, and training in progress that hopefully it will make a difference.

    There is no fix. It is just a long process of trying to fight corruption, cleaning up the system and constantly making adjustments.

    Do the majority of Mexicans want to fight corruption? Do they really want a revamped criminal system?

    You know the saying, "You can bring a horse to water but you can't make 'em drink."

    The situation has to improve. Proper trials, proper punishment for crimes, no more complicity and no more impunity is something to strive for..

  3. The very idea of a "state" that has no self-interest and impartially defends "the people" is flawed. It is the state that wages the war on drugs, and passes draconian gun laws so that people cannot defend themselves.

  4. "There is no fix. It is just a long process of trying to fight corruption, cleaning up the system and constantly making adjustments"....

    Totally agree amigo...

    Mordida is just one facet, maybe a small facet of the overall problem but its the one that is seemingly most public...

    Good comment sir!

  5. Last I heard Mexicans run Mexico,they live there,they are Mexico, so if THEY get off their lazy ass,WORK, Mexico can be anything they wish,the other adjoining countrys are not going to be Mexico. It is not the USA that is responsible for funding and forcing the Complacent,Passive Mexicans to attempt Responsibility.

  6. @12:30 that is some dumbass gringo shit to say. Mexicans work incredibly hard - in this country and in their own. The problem is that the government doesn't respond to the will of the population because it is beholden to unpatriotic interests (the Mexican elite, Spanish
    Business, and the United States).

    Mexico should have a legitimate government for once - one with the real support of the people that doesn't leave them mired in $2 a day poverty and unending civil war - a government that will make people want to join the army and police and serve with honor. A government that understands that the drug lords fill a role that these illegitimate governments refuse to fill - that providing jobs and money and schools and infrastructure and some kind justice while the Mexican government is too busy doing what it's elite and the USA want.

    It keeps bursting out - in 1968, last in 2006 - moves towards real democracy that are coopted, wiped out in favor of the Mexican elite and the interests of the States.

    And what does the states care about Mexico and Mexicans? It is filled with fools like yourself who - despite the fact that you have Mexican neighbors working ten times as hard as yourself - sees fit to pull up your "made in mexico" slacks and declare them lazy. You are scum and part of the problem. The sooner Mexico turns its back on a country filled with people like you, the better off it will be.

    1. It's more like made in China u dumbass lol wow your pretty stupid. I hope u don't reproduce.

  7. are the jurors gona wear masks? if not good luck to them!

  8. September 30, 2012 12:41 PM
    Then why are they Fighting YOUR drug wars for you?

    No shit Sherlock .

  10. Every Mexican government official needs to hide their real identity

  11. Jam session

    Looking for the meaning of words related to crime I found this:

    Clockwork Orange, A
    . . a novel written in 1962 by the British writer Anthony Burgess, about a group of young men who live in a future time and behave in a very violent way. It was made into a film by Stanley Kubrick in 1971, but he stopped allowing it to be shown in the UK because he believed that people were copying the violent actions of the actors in the film.

    Very interesting isn't it?! And we've heard the words 'Crime Prevention' before. It's a major study to undertake and some people make a career of it. What about television's influences over the years? And film at the cinema, films like Rambo for instance?, has The Need To Be a Macho 'been created' by some films? And what about psychic driving Violent Video games? And what about the language a country uses? When I go to Blog del Narco I see A LOT of Foul Mouth language ¿but where does it come from and does it drive people to try to play MACHO?, are we attenuating the sensitive caring side in ourselves when we try to show ourselves to others as being very manly, a tough guy instead of a wimpy little joto? Do we not need a certain degree of sensitive in order to place value on ourselves and others and create a healthy supportive caring society?


  12. "Officials in both countries increasingly believe the root of Mexico's problem lies in creating an honest police force, professional judges and a prison system comparable with that in the U.S" This is wishful thinking. Everyone knows that in Mexico money can buy you anything due to corruption, greed, poverty and miserable wages. So quit kidding yourselves.

  13. So just who is responsible for the mess in Mexico MOHAMED??

  14. What a joke! We know, those who spend much time in Mexico that the corruption is strong and deep in all levels of the system. Money is the rule. Only the Gringos seem to be brain dead on this matter.

  15. Gringos huh?!? Look.u racist dipshits you fucks need to stop taking bribes and start kicking some cartel ass and stop being a bunch of bitches and start admitting your country's legal system sucks. WAAAA WAAAA if it wasn't for the Gringos intelligence drug kingpins such as arturo beltran, hummer, el coss, and a bunch of other silly assholes would still be killing the shit outta you fucks. So instead of dumping your shitty opinions on th US . You should man the Fuck up and take control of your country. Btw I'm not white.

    1. Good point! If it wasn't for the intelligence network, the Mexican marines would not have killed arturo beltran, or hummer. They were also responsible in part for la barbie and also many other captures!!! So before you start Dissing the US. REMEMBER THEY ARE THE BEST SOURCE OF INTEL MEXICO HAS ESPECIALLY ON THE CAPOS BECAUSE THEY CANNOT BRIBE OR INTIMIDATE THEM. SO STFU WITH THE GRINGOS SHIT ALREADY.


  17. "Anonymous said...

    Last I heard Mexicans run Mexico,they live there,they are Mexico, so if THEY get off their lazy ass,WORK, Mexico can be anything they wish,the other adjoining countrys are not going to be Mexico. It is not the USA that is responsible for funding and forcing the Complacent,Passive Mexicans to attempt Responsibility.
    September 30, 2012 12:41 PM "

    Great comment, they should build a huge fence around Mexico and no one comes in or out until the resemble a civilized society!

  18. The last time I checked, there was corruption on both sides of the border. The idea of the elite (i.e., the "haves") and the have-nots is also not new to the US. When I lived in Phoenix, I worked with enough Mexicans in construction or on farms to know that "lazy" is definitely not the right word to describe them. Trying to assist Mexico to create of better system of government only seems stupid if you are unaware that Mexico is the US' third biggest trading partner. Mexican stability is good for both sides of the border.

  19. has mexico fixed its water problem i remember as a kid when we went to mexico with my family for shits and giggles i was told to never drink there water i just wanted to know

  20. @ 2:53 Mexico,SOMETHING IS BROKEN?
    No shit Sherlock .
    September 30, 2012 2:53 PM

    You picked up on it Sherlock! The title was a play on the obvious like from Casey at the Bat. Something's wrong in Mudville. Maybe I should have just done this ( "Duh!" )

  21. The problem is that Mexico is plagued with Mexicans. No worries though, because soon they will all be in California. The 12:30 guys quote isn't just some "gringo shit", it's the truth. Mexico has more natural resources and natural beauty than any other place on earth, but Mexicans ruin it every time. PLEASE prove me wrong so I can go back and buy land down there and enjoy Mexico again. I'll be waiting forever though.

  22. so the went from buying helicopters to just paying the officers and the judges. Who will eventually turn on the cartel side since they will threaten them that they will kill their family. Legalize drugs and erase the black market you dum gringos. You dont see gangsters killing and having shootouts over whiskey anymore. fuck prohibition

  23. "So instead of dumping your shitty opinions on th US . You should man the Fuck up and take control of your country. Btw I'm not white"
    I know why you felt the need to say that.It seems to give a more balanced and credible point of view that is more believable.I myself am white,but when i say something it could be construed as criticism or even racism?Even if fact is being stated.I have honestly never used racism on here against anyone,i don't believe in it.Usually the people who use racism are bitter about life and are losers who blame other people and races for the state of their lives,it usually is as simple as that.

  24. Judges in both counties are bribed too the point where their Cayman Islands bank accounts bulge like old bladders. Who was the US supreme court judge who got robbed while riding bummy down there? Any hoo, yeah, build a universe of prisons and funnel public funds into corporate coffers is a red hot fad these days.

  25. Oh geez.
    A veteran of the U.S. criminal justice here(Texas).
    If the hopes for Mexico's judicial system is to make it like ours, then Mexico is in definite trouble.
    Are you morons telling me that our criminal justice system is a beacon to the world?
    You have got to be kidding me.
    What Mexico needs, and this should be implemented by the Mexicans themselves, is to come up with solving the deep core of corruption within their institutions. The U.S. has made corruption worse by throwing money to the Mexican military and criminal justice system.
    The Napoleonic system of law that Mexico has, when and if implemented seriously without corruption, is a thousand times better than the stupid English system of law so despised in mainland Europe, as an example.

  26. "and a prison system comparable with that in the U.S"

  27. What a waste of our tax payer money and national debt. Nothing is going to change until cops, prison workers and all level of government are trained and paid a great paycheck. People take bribes because their pay sucks. Mexico needs an overhaul. Maybe ocupation by a foreign power is the only way to rehab the place.

  28. "are we attenuating the sensitive caring side in ourselves when we try to show ourselves to others as being very manly, a tough guy instead of a wimpy little joto"
    What is your point?Do you want men to cry,to show they have a softer side?Do you want men to pretend to be something they are not?Just because you"feel"things more,you think every other man is somehow damaged emotionally?You don't make much sense at all?You call it"pretending"to be manly?Have you thought that they are being what they are,,,men.No more,no less.

  29. solo uno solucion , cerrar la fronterra con mexico , y bloquea el mar cerca de la fronterra, pronto todos podemos ver , loque perdimos en dinero por transito, es nada en comparado a loque los carteles peridiran durante ellos enibliidad a movar drogas a estados unidos.

    only one solution , close the frontier with mexico and put a blockade on sea travel from mexico, what we lose in revenue through trade with mexico , is more than made up for with the money the cartels will lose through not being able to move drugs to america

  30. .

    We have things to discuss my precious friend Havana:

    Let's find out what 'Culture Creation' means and 'WHO' is In Control of MOVEMENTS THAT 'INFLUENCE' CIVILIZATION TO BEHAVE in a CERTAIN WAY and What the Ad.Vantages ARE in doing that to others. (taking advantage of others to benifit a greedy SELF)

    In the meantime, check this out, I hope this song INSPIRES 'YOU' ->


    - mp

    INCIDENTALMENTE, I chose an older BB post believing that what I write to you /send to you from this older BB PAGE will only be seen by you for the reason that THIS news post of yours will not be visited again because it is a Septiembre posting of yours, Havana.

    Once again, ENJOY THIS:

    - mp


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