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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Proposal advances in Mexico to limit preventative detentions to 8 days

By Chris Covert

A new law is advancing in the Mexican national legislature which could limit preventative detentions to eight days, according to Mexican news accounts.

A news report which appeared on the website of El Sol de Mexico news daily last Saturday said that Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) deputy coordinator of the senate, Arturo Zamora Jimenez, Mexican senators are discussing limiting the prosecutorial maneuver of arriago, or preventative detentions to just eight days.
Arturo Zamora Jimenez

Current law permits Mexico's Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR) or national attorney general to detain suspected criminals for up to 40 days without charge or trial.  The maneuver is colloquially known in Mexico as "rooting", and is typically used against suspected drug traffickers and corrupt government officials.

Arraigo can only be imposed with the consent of a Mexican federal judge and can be extended under certain conditions for up to 80 days.

According to a news report which appeared on the website of Animal Politico news website Saturday, Zamora Jimenez said that the law violates Article 17 of the Mexican Constitution which limits detentions by the PGR to just 48 hours.  The procedure, according to the senator violates criminal defendants right to a speedy trial.

Mexico has a Napoleonic law which means that criminal defendants who are detained begin serving time for their crime immediately, but may be released if they can prove their innocence.

According to the article, Zamora Jimenez wants to limit use of arraigo to only drug traffickers and organized crime defendants.

During the term of President Felipe Calderon, drug traffickers could and were routinely  be held incommunicado on military bases until the investigation of the prosecutor was complete.  Arraigo has been used against government officials as well. In the case of the massacres in La Laguna during 2010, prison officials in Durango's Centro de Readaptacion Social Numero 2 prison in Gomez Palacio, Durango, were detained for 20 days after it was learned that they had spent months permitting prisoners passes at night in order to attack Los Zetas facilities in La Laguna.  Those series of massacres cost the lives of more than 30 individuals in 2010.

Prison director Margarita Rojas Rodriguez was ordered detained for 20 days, and then was sentenced three months later to serve time in a prison in Nayarit.  Ten other officials were eventually sentenced for their tole in the massacres as well.

Another example of the use of arraigo is Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez, AKA Diego, one of the bloodiest capos in Mexican Drug War history, who was ordered detained for 40 days for his role in more than 1,500 murders during his reign of terror between 2007 and 2011 in Chihuahua state.

Arraigo is part of the Mexican Article 139 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the State, and not part of the Mexican Constitution.  Part of the law, according to an article entitled El Arraigo es Opesto al Principio de Presuncion de Inocencia, or Rooting is opposed to the principle of presumption of Innocense, found on the website of  by Laura Patricia Ramirez Molina, only freedom of movement of the detainee may be constricted.  The government is not allowed to seize property, but is only allowed to detain the suspects for the time period to enable prosecutors to complete their investigation.  In practice, prosecutors also limit detainees contact with the outside during the term of their detention.

In the article Ramirez Molina proposed the use of electronic means of tracking criminal suspects detained under arraigo.

The article can be found here (PDF download).

According to the article, Ramirez Molina said that arraigo violates Articles 14, 16 and 19 of the Mexican Constitution.  It should be noted that Mexican criminal procedure in practice doesn't allow the presumption of innocence in that criminal defendants must prove their innocence.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for


  1. pinche pri corrupto se pasan! el diablo encarnado!! van a regresar a los acuerdos con narcos, quitarle los derechos ala gente, y regresar su regimen autoritario, repressivo, acabar con la libertad de informacion,, hijos de puta! sin guerra civil es el fin de mexico

  2. LOL... enjoy your elected gov Mexico... you asked for it.

  3. So... This guys is on the cartel payroll ? Mexican government working to protect the criminal. Never ends.

  4. this is quite possibly a good thing. like la cosa nostra or wall street maybe these criminals will concentrate on playing the system to stay free rather than shooting it out with the police/army/journalists or commiting mass assasinations to survive.

  5. wtffff?!

  6. Mexico has been criticized by human rights organizations and the UN for making extensive (routine, actually) use of the arraigo. The generals, for instance, were kept in arraigo for several months, so the 40 day limitation in the law is meaningless in practice. The government may always asks for an extension, and usually does.

    This strange legal mechanism runs totally against all rational due process ideas because it can send a suspect to prison on mere suspicion of guilt, from where he/she is expected to prove his innocence.

    On the other hand, and there's always another hand in Mexico, wealthy or influential suspects can fight or challenge the arraigo, and are rarely subjected to this measure. Hank Rhon Gonzalez is a good example of a powerful individual with the means to defeat an arraigo. Despite an extensive family and personal history of corruption, he easily challenged a proposed arraigo on weapons charges and spent very little time, if any, in jail.

    Murillo Karam, the new Attorney General, has promised to eliminate or reform this legal oddity. As hey say in Mexico, "a ver si como roncan duermen."


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