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

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mexican Supreme Court restricts preventative detention

By Chris Covert

The Mexican Suprema Cort de Justicia del Nacion (SCJN) or Supreme Court, said Monday that Mexican states may not use preventative detention, saying that the practice was available only to the federal government, according to Mexican news accounts.

The practice, known as arraigo, or rooting was a constitutional reform passed in 2008 in order to allow federal prosecutors a tool in dealing with organized crime.  Arraigo allows the government to detain individuals incommunicado suspected in serious crimes drug crimes for up to 80 days in 40 day increments without trial or bail.  Arraigo can only be granted by a federal judge, and can only be extended once  by a federal judge.  In past drug cases, some defendants have been detained for 20 days.

According to a La Jornada wire dispatch which appeared in the online edition of El Diario de Chihuahua news daily, the panel voted eight to two on a case brought by  Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH) or Human Rights Commision, concerning Article 291 in the state constitution of Aguascalientes, which permitted local and state judges to grant requests for preventative detention for serious crimes.

The SCJN members said that arraigo was intended to be applied only in serious crimes linked to drug cases.  While the ruling negated the Aguascalientes law, the court said that preventative detention cases would have to be evaluated on a case by case basis.  That part of the ruling means that criminal defendants are not to be released en masse until a judge has had a say in the release, but can petition the court for redress.  A number of state entities have arraigo on their books including Hidalgo state.

In Mexico in the legal community, arraigo is generally considered a violation of human rights inasmuch as a judge is employed to oversee the detention. The ruling leaves unaddressed federal use of arraigo.

According to the news report, arraigo violates international human rights conventions, and it also is in direct contradiction to the SCJN ruling in 2011 that international human rights treaties have the same force as as Mexican laws in the area of human rights.

According to a Notimex wire dispatch which appeared in Milenio news daily, SCJN  intends to deal with the 2011 ruling in a later session.

According to a news article in Animal Politico,  8,595 individuals have been placed in preventative detention, but only 3.2 percent have actually been convicted of a crime.  In a separate news report, Mexican federal judges have denied arraigo only 4.7 percent of the time. It is unclear in the news report if those statistics are nationwide at the federal level or at both the federal and state levels.  In states such as Hidalgo, crimes listed under which states have imposed arraigo include murder, robbery, extortion, abortion and rebellion.

According to  Jose Antonio Guevara Bermudez, director of the Comision Mexicana de Defensa y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH) or Commision for Defense and Promotion of Humans Rights, preventative detention increases the chance that a detainee will suffer physical abuse at the hands of the state.  In the Animal Politico article a 2011 case is cited of  Miriam Lopez, who was arrested in Ensenada, Baja California.

Senora Lopez claimed she was subjected to torture and physical and sexual abuse during the three weeks she remained in preventative detention. 

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for and  He can be reached at


  1. I am usually in favor of stronger tools to combat crime but this one seems scary. I am not comfortable with the thought of being subjected to this by anyone; period! Keeping it out of the hands of STATE Officials seems like a good idea.

  2. I thought this was Chapoland Beat!!! Not Borderland Beat!!!

  3. Oyes Chivis pescaron al Comandante 1
    4 del CDG en Guerrero......

  4. WRONG! IT Is is DEA beat!

  5. Word here in phoenix is that a lot of cds members have already started switching sides from cds to cdj & blo

    1. Quit being so dumb pls. CDS is not all about Chapo an the biggest cartel will not go away overnight. La Finikera is and still will be CDS terreno.

  6. I read on american news stations that the ambassador from mexico to usa said chapo has to finish out his previous sentence and will face more charges in mexican court system before any extraditions will happen. Looks like that was maybe the plan all along. Any thoughts anybody?

  7. Organized crime is not the problem. Organized crime is a symptom of corruption. Defeat corruption and you have defeated organized crime. The arriago is another example of fighting the symptom instead of fighting the cause.

  8. What the fukkk ?
    On one hand there are the drug cartels
    and on another the police abusing the people.
    And the politicians are - OF COURSE - corrupted.

    Mexico sucks.

  9. yes! I saw the capture a couple days ago. this is 14 for sure?
    I have been so busy with the chapo coverage I did not have time to research more info and write a post. I am sorry

  10. judicial police,wether state or federal, abuse and torture prisoners, irregardless of guilt, they also fabricate guilty parties in whatever amount they need, often while protecting the real guilty parties.
    all local crimes should be locally investigated, AND supervised by the judicial federal or state police, of course, with clear view of the proceedings, not in dark dungeons with torture tools and cold water containers, in an age of poligraphs and lie detectors cheaper than a police officer's pay, i don't understand why anybody has to go trough torture as part of any investigation, my friend died under torture after confessing to have stolen a tin pail of lard, at the hands of policia judicial commander el tenebroso ruben giacoman in fresnillo zac, he was made policia judicial commander after a long prison term for murdering somebody for stealing a few mineral rocks from the mining company, in mexico, after going to prison for the training, you can become a top level police officer, and the worst even become national commissioners of the policia federal, like zeta from the start Enrique Francisco Galindo Ceballos, kidnapper, extortionist, murderer of his own police commanders, hero of pena nieto's police, money launderer trained by the FBI, with more training in spain to cover his tracks, nephew of julio ceballos, porro leader, writer, investigator with hundreds of crimes "solved" and associated with el lazca, el taliban z50, and el mamito in san luis potosi state, arrested with drug traffickers and weapons dealer to drug and kidnapping gangs...
    the policia federal all across mexico has spred all kinds of crime like a chilango cancer, contaminating every state and city in the country, and it needs to be brought out in the open, Dr Mireles better watch out!!!

  11. I remeber getting pistol whipped with the gun taken from a dead mexican federal agent. The agent was in a casa de arraigo. When the z's came in to rescue their friend. Saw the same dude laying dead a few months later. On the road to Reynosa. They wont have Archivaldo so close at hand. But out of reach means nothing to a man with a world wide reach. His true crime is adapting to a sick society.

  12. "Arraigo" is an abuse of justice. Want to end Mexico's cartel violence? LEGALIZE! Lo de mas es pura mamadera de gallo.

  13. Hey @chivis have u heard or have any pictures of the protest or march thats going on in culiacan to free el chapo

  14. yes, I will put a foto up on the zetas manta post

  15. I've always been fascinated by the "arraigo" process. It is so clearly a violation of Mexico's constitution, not to mention a human rights violation according to the UN itself, that I wonder how the Mexican government could even pretend that it was legal. Most of the prisoners who were kept under arraigo for up to 3 or 4 years were, of course, poor. A great many were indigenous people who could barely understand Spanish, and in many, many cases did not understand or speak Spanish. To say that they were deprived of their constitutional and human rights is a huge understatement.

    The arraigo can only be understood in the context of a true inquisitorial system of justice, where the accused may not know who his accusers are, what his rights are or even why he is being held. After the 2008 reform, use of the arraigo should be limited to organized crime investigations. But I doubt all those being held under the previous law have been released. It would be interesting to find out.

  16. Zeta 40 speaks. Chapo is so lucky 40 didn't get to him.


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