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

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Mexican Armed Forces Take Control of Customs by Orders of the Federal Government

"Redlogarythm" for Borderland Beat

Source: Archivo Digital Colima

Last Thursday, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) announced that the customs system will undergo a radical change with the elimination of the Customs' General Administration (Administración General de Aduanas, AGA).

The AGA will be replaced by Mexico's Customs National Agency (Agencia Nacional de Aduanas de México, ANAM), a new administrative body controlled both by the SEDENA (Army) and the SEMAR (Navy).

The announcement took place during AMLO's ritual morning conference, although it had been published a day earlier (14th) in the Federation's Official Diary.

The new customs body has been created and modelled through a decree that establishes this new agency as a decentralized administrative body of the Federal Secretary of Finance and Public Credit (Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, SHCP).

Among other generic duties, its main task will be "to organize and direct the inspection services to apply and enforce the fulfillment of legal rules regulating the entrance and exit of merchandise from national soil".

The reform of Mexico's customs system might be labelled as an intent by the Federal Government to address a matter of public security and one of the country's top causes for public insecurity.

Mexico has 49 custom posts and it is through these points that the drugs, migrants and illicit assets managed by organized crime abandon the country. It´s also through these customs that the weapons, money and contraband used by the paramilitary cells of criminal organizations enter the country.

Old solutions, not a new initiative:

The creation of the ANAM is nothing more than the materialization of another of AMLO's promises. Back in July 2020, he announced in a meeting held at the State of Colima, one of the main entry points of chemical precursors and fentanyl coming from Southeast Asia, that the customs, ports and border facilities would be operated by the Armed Forces in an attempt to curb the rampant situation of corruption inside the AGA.

Thus, the creation of the ANAM is the culmination of a process that started not with AMLO but during the Administration of Enrique Peña Nieto, when the SEMAR took control of certain ports of the Pacific coast, although they were isolated operations that were not conducted through an homogeneous body controlled by the military.

As a matter of fact, one of the ANAM´s most interesting facts is that its founding Decree admits and promotes the membership of elements belonging to the Armed Forces, both in active service (third paragraph of the Considerations) and in retirement (Article 8).

Thus, although the Decree does not state that the ANAM will be operated by the military, it leaves an open door to such possibility. In its Article 5.6, it says that it will be possible for the new customs agency to coordinate with the Armed Forces and National Security Institutions to "preserve security in the nation´s points of access."

Furthermore, any doubt regarding the involvement of the SEDENA and the SEMAR into the new ANAM was cleared when Andrés Manuel López Obrador attributed a direct role to the armed forces in the management of the agency.

"Of course it depends of the SHCP. Nevertheless, at the operative level, it´s going to be the Armed Forces the ones responsible for the administration of customs", he said.

This decision marks a new paradigm shift in Mexico's never-ending route towards what we could call a process of socio-economic militarization.

Once seen as the executive arm of the Federal Government, in charge of the repression of social movements that had gone too far or of certain manifestations of organized criminality that could not be controlled, the Mexican Armed Forces, especially the SEDENA and the SEMAR, have been used as patches with which to stop the constant leakages and failures of the Federal and State plans and offensives against organized crime. Thus, the Mexican Army has become a useful accessory to deploy when any other solution has failed.

Although useful in the context of the brutal conflicts that are currently consuming certain zones of Mexico (such as Michoacán, Sonora, Chihuahua or Guerrero) it is very dangerous to use the Armed Forces, whose goal is and will always be the use of violent force against a certain enemy, inside a country that is not involved in an officially declared armed conflict. 

Although the temporal use of the Army can be justified in extreme situations such as States of Emergency or natural disasters, we should not forget that the Mexican Army has been deployed in the streets on a daily basis for 15 years, since the beginning of the so called "war on organized crime" launched in 2006 by Felipe Calderón.

The use of an institution conceived, designed and organized for the use of force for strictly civilian purposes is a new step in the slow but constant route towards the militarization of the Mexican society. 

The creation of the ANAM isn´t new, though. There have been previous instances of military intervention in the management of strictly administrative areas.

We could evoke, for example, the militarization of certain ports like Manzanillo (in Colima) and Lázaro Cárdenas (in Michoacán) in a desperate effort to end with the industrial trade of chemical precursors coming from Asia and minerals such as iron ore extracted by organized groups from open-pit mines and exported to the South-East. It was a total failure.

Although dozens of custom officers were detained or dismissed, the military authorities that took control of the facilities could not prevent the flow of illicit goods, either by negligence or complicity with criminal structures.

In July 2020, AMLO announced the militarization of ports and customs, provoking again an enormous debate around the economic effects of such a measure.

Since then we had heard periodic rumors about the militarization of sea facilities, but they had not been specified in any serious measure. 

The militarization plan had a victim: Mexico's Communications and Transport Secretary, Javier Jiménez Espriú, who resigned for SEMAR's intervention in the customs system.

A route to nowhere?

It´s too early to decide whether the control of the customs system by the Armed Forces through the ANAM will mean a reduction in the quotas of contraband entering and coming out from Mexico.

Nevertheless, the perspectives and potential success of such a plan are darkened by the evidence of previous similar failures and by the proven venality of certain elements of the Armed Forces, especially the SEDENA.

Another sign of continuity is the permanence of the former AGA head, Horacio Duarte Olivares, who will also be the head of the ANAM once the change of offices takes place.

Certainly, if AMLO wanted a paradigm shift, he could have very easily dismissed Duarte, whose tenure as head of the AGA has been marked by constant recriminations of the President himself, who has recognized that the AGA has always been rotten to the core.

Nothing will change in Mexico until there´s a change of scope in the way of addressing security problems.

Although AMLO's administration earned respect from almost every reasonable agents by recognizing that violence has a socio-economic reason as a cause, his civic speech of "hugs, not bullets" does not hold in a context in which the Armed Forces are constantly absorbing new and more powerful duties, becoming one of the nation's new arbitrators.


  1. Thanks Red... probably the biggest structural change we've seen this year as far as government strategy goes. Let's see what happens. The Navy will likely get more corrupted too... money talks.

  2. MARINA is just as corrupt if not WORSE
    Look at michoacan and ZACATECAS where they just sit back and let the CARTELS roam FREE
    Without a worry in the world.
    In michoacan the marina works for cu/VIAGRAS
    In ZACATECAS MARINA is neutral, cds or CJNG csn go extort and KILL without military intervention..

    1. Orale Caps lock nino whatever!

  3. Not the Marina’s!!

  4. @ 6'32
    YEP the Marinas

    wonder who is going to be the Lead Cartel running it ?? besides ALMO navy etc..?



  6. Lopez obrador should resign take the money and run or wait until 2024? What ever happened to money from those Presidential planes he sold? And he won't have pension when he leaves office ? He took that away from pena? As if they need it ? !

    1. @7:57 His party will rule for a long time, so you can rest well.

  7. AMLO definetly did not earn anyones respect, at leat not from law abiding citizens by letting cartels run around doing as they please! All Amlo wants is to perpetuate his party in power.

    1. It will be bypassed somehow, Cartels pay BRIBES to Curupt officials. As he wants evelopes of money to continue coming in.

  8. ...drugs not bullets.

    let me explain. i come to this conclusion after many years of intense debate and thought on this subject. if you are like me and dont use drugs, this is even more important for people like us to understand. the way we are going creates the problems. 99.9% of the drug related crimes can all be traced back to the illegality and prohibition framework.

    full legalization combined with proper education re: drug use and a rebuilt economy that puts people back to work(these jobs dont necessarily have to be and probably shouldnt revolve largely around the drug trade), jobs are created when the employer has noy just the need to higher new employees but also the incentive ie tax breaks directly tied to employee new hires, this way the employer is can see hiring as an asset and not a liability lile it does now...some say the population is growing too fast well how about an incentive for people that dont have kids or choose to have less kids, thats a tax break you dont hear enough about...less diapers more parking spaces sounds like a win win to me. above all though we need a renewed respect for the freedoms of the mind body of the individual. if people are properly educated on how to use drugs safely, then it should be their right to do so without fear of persecution. a full legalized framework would take out the enormous profit that drugs generate purely from the 'risk tax' of it being prohibited. this would almost certainly lower supply because the incentives to sell them will be lowered. then if people choose to grow their own, make their own, then they should be left alone period. this way drugs can go back to being the non-issue they really ought to have been and should be.

    ...or we can just continue going down the path we are now and continue this utterly insane downward spiral into a morally, spiritually, and financially bankrupt nations of children in adult bodies running around with half society desparately trying to police the other half, snake eating its own tail year after year like some sadistic not so merry go round..we have private for profit prisons that depend on 90% occupancy rates, police departments that fund themselves through the asset forfeiture of people even before conviction if this isnt insane AF to everyone here i dont think id be able to convince you...we shouldnt want more prisons, the highest prison population in the modern world isnt something to bw proud about. frankly its down right disturbing and an effin embarressment.

    the choice is yours/ours...choose wisely

    1. Bro legalization will not end the violence. Much of the violence now is not from taffickers. As the cartels continually split you get crews extorting taxis to tortillerias. Secuestros will not end because of legalization. Street sales of jale will continue even if oxxo sells it because black market is always cheaper than white market.

      I don't see your approach ending 99.9% of the problems as you state. Corey Feldman can help but not solve these issues.

    2. It would take a huge chunk out of what the cartels take in financially and that would have a huge effect on how they opperate . Corey Feldman finds your lack of faith in his abilities disturbing . He could solve all the issues but wants to give Sicarrio 006 a shot at fixing up his area first . If 006 cant get it done then Corey will make things better that how he opperates . god bless Corey Feldman

    3. Mijo por favor use capitals at beginning of a sentence, don't forget when to use commas and periods. Otherwise your not take seriously.

    4. I wish such a strategy would help or reduce the magnitude of this problem. A problem many countries are facing.
      Commerce is so immense that employment to fulfill such is not possible.
      Better wages for all will reduce criminal activities and deter from even engaging.
      Please note; that the lack of employment added with stagnate wages are what drives criminal activities.

    5. but @806 I only finished 5 grade
      I had to help my papa at the farm
      that reminds me has anyone heard from that lady yanki from the farm people say she has many donkeys I sure would like to visit her farm one day.

    6. @9:13 I appreciate reading your perspective. Of course any ideas, libertarian or not, socio economics etc. There are zero easy answers, or I would say is MX beyond any answers at this point? I don't know, but thx for your opinion. Yours, the lady that comments too much MS.h

  9. Meet the new boss
    Same as the old boss
    The ball rolls in 1 direction get behind it or get ran over by it .

  10. So now people pay the “mordida” to the Military.
    Got it. 👍🏼

    Thanks AMLO (sarcasm).

    1. I am surprised Queso is not nagging about Biden.

    2. 642 Biden is half dead. Listen to him talk and its obvious he is in mental decline.

      The socialists are bossing him around mijo.

    3. I knew Queso would offer the remark, not using your screen name now. He is doing a hell of a better job than Mr. T and don't be a sore loser.

    4. The Republicans are socialist too but only for the rich while Democrats are for the little guy.

    5. @12:02 not using my screen name?

      @1:58 Wall Street has Dems in their pocket. Dems are for lazy welfare recipients, and uneducated illegal aliens that turn neighborhoods into slums.

  11. Replies
    1. Orale Edgar Alvarado welcome back!

    2. Edgar stop going to Tijuana Bro, they killed a guy buying seafood, in a Red Mercedes, from USA.

    3. Hey Edgar do you wear that big hat of yours at church?

    4. @9:32 Only when he cuts my grass and uses the leaf blower.

    5. @9:32 Only when he cuts my grass and uses the leaf blower.

    6. Lol Queso being a comedian, glad you're feeling fine today.

  12. I am afraid Mexico 🇲🇽 is always going to be a mess. I thought they drug wars would last maybe 2 years, this revolution is been going on 15 years. Now with open border drugs and human smuggling will make the cartels stronger.

    1. Hey I love that flag so kill dude, nice colors, where can I buy one.

  13. I really liked this article, Red.

    It makes me want to look more into the militarization of the specific ports you mentioned and the results. Seems like they'd serve as a good case study for how the implementation of policies like this actually play out, like you said.

    1. Thanks compa. A year ago or so I wrote extensively about the militarization of the port of Lázaro Cárdenas when investigating CJNG´s role in illegal mining along the Tierra Caliente. If you want to take a further look into this issue I strongly recommend two books "Tierra sin Dios" and "México a Cielo Abierto", by Jesús Lemus Barajas

    2. I think I just found your piece, an article titled Blood Under The Rocks, from July 2020? Can't wait to dive in.

      Also a man with cartel book recommendations? You're a man after my own heart. Thank you!

    3. Red, I run the risk of over commenting tonight, or over praising, but this is an interesting article. Thanks for your time, h

  14. Ya están aquí en mi cruce, así que me sorprende que este sea un nuevo anuncio. Todo esto está bien, ya que los puertos deportivos siempre me permiten pasar sin control. En serio, me muevo un poco el trasero y paso por la aduana pronto. Ustedes, jóvenes sementales, deberían intentarlo también porque nunca se sabe con Marina, una perrita de cuernos. Tienen armas tan grandes.

  15. country under complete government control, military handling all law enforcement 🤔, that marroon color looking good


Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;