Albion Monitor /News

Mexican "War on Drugs" Efforts a Sham, Insiders Say

by Diego Cevallos

"Publicity stunt" for the Clinton visit will, in the long term, strengthen criminal groups
(IPS) MEXICO CITY -- The United States congratulated Mexico on its war against organized crime in the run up to a visit by Bill Clinton, but former members of the Ernesto Zedillo administration questioned recent changes in the country's antidrug policy.

Last week's announced replacement of the National Institute to Combat Drugs (INCD) with a special prosecutor's office "is no more than a publicity stunt" for the Clinton visit and will, in the long term, strengthen the criminal groups, said Francisco Molina, former chief of the liquidated body.

However, Thomas McLarty, Clinton's chief of staff, said just the opposite, that dismantling the INCD reiterated the Ernesto Zedillo government's "genuine commitment" to fighting the mafias.

Organized crime spends more than $800 million in bribes to Mexican authorities each year
The Office for Attention to Crimes Against Health will replace the 1993, INCD, which replaced the 1992 Narcotics Investigative Police, which in 1991 replaced the General Coordination for Attention to Crimes against Health.

The government has faced tough criticism from the U.S. Congress in recent months, over its alleged weakness in the fight against organized criminal groups and announcements of a link between a leading narcotrafficker and the leader of the Mexican antidrugs leader, General Jesus Gutierrez, which shocked Washington.

Drug trafficking is an issue which causes constant friction and will form, along with immigration and trade, the main axis of discussions between U.S. and Mexican delegations.

It appears clear that Mexico will use these meetings to demand revisions to the U.S. "certification" process, used as an incentive system, rewarding nations seen to have co-operated on the war on drugs and punishing those seen to have failed, on a yearly basis.

Attorney General Jorge Madrazo said on April 30 that "serious (corruption) problems" in the INCD had led to its replacement with the new organism made up of agents who have been psychologically, socio-economically and lie-detector tested.

This change has nothing to do with supposed pressure from the United States as alleged by some opposition politicians, said Madrazo.

For Molina, who worked with antidrug officials in Washington between March and December 1996, the new organism is weak and vulnerable as it only maintained 60 of the 1,200 INCD agents.

The former official said the dismissed agents presented a danger, and that this constant changing of the schemes to fight the mafias is a serious strategic error.

Mexico -- where research by the Independent National University says organized crime spends more than $800 million in bribes to the authorities each year -- is the main route of entry for the drugs consumed in the United States.

Former general attorney, Antonio Lozano, said last week the anti-corruption campaigns undertaken during his term in office (November 1994 to December 1996) had led to Zedillo being informed of the supposed links between General Gutierrez and organized crime, but that nothing had been done about this.

However, the presidential office produced a disclaimer saying they had found out about Gutierrez from other sources.

Lozano, from the right wing National Action Party (PAN), the second strongest party in Mexico, said Zedillo and his team were not telling the truth. When the stories came out in July last year "I did what I had to do; I told the president," he said.

However, Gutierrez was only removed in February 1997, after having received strategic information from the United States.

Zedillo has shown himself to be "the biggest liar in the country" said PAN deputy Alejandro Gonzalez, for not wanting to recognize "the reestructuring work carried out in the lessons learned and the justice procured during Lozano's term in office."

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Albion Monitor May 10, 1997 (

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