Newsbrief: Mexico Disbands Anti-Drug Agency, Cites Corruption 1/24/03

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Last week, DRCNet reported that the Mexican military had raided the Tijuana office of FEADS, the latest Mexican equivalent of the DEA ( But even as the Week Online was going to press last week, Mexican soldiers were once again on the move, raiding and shutting down all FEADS offices in the country on orders from Attorney General Rafael Macedo. The drug agency's 200 agents will all be investigated for evidence that they are in the pockets of the cartels, Macedo told reporters at a January 17 Mexico City press conference announcing the raids.

"We have to admit that there are people who do not understand that this [tolerance of corruption] is over, and we are going to finish with them," said Macedo. "We have to clean up our house. We will not rest until we have totally cleaned up these federal police forces, and we will insist that every police force at the state and local level is also in the same shape."

Tough words from the Fox administration, but their impact is vitiated by the fact that every Mexican administration since 1980 has at one point or another said basically the same thing, usually after the anti-drug unit of the day has been exposed as hopelessly compromised. FEADS, in fact, had its genesis in the scandal surrounding Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo. Rebollo was for a brief time Mexico's "drug czar" -- until he was arrested after being caught taking bribes from the Juarez cartel. Then-President Ernesto Zedillo created FEADS as a confidence building measure with the gringos after Rebollo went to prison.

But suspicious practices and scandals continue. Notorious trafficker Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman somehow managed to escape from prison two years, and the drumbeat of mundane corruption scandals has been incessant. And while the Fox administration has claimed some successes in the drug war, especially with the decapitation of the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix organization, even those successes hardly qualify as victories. With the Arellano Felix brothers off the scene, for example, their organization has not gone away, but mutated, and bodies are piling up on the border as would-be successors struggle for control of "la plaza," the franchise. For Mexican drug enforcement in the last 20 years, much has happened, but little has changed.

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Issue #273, 1/24/03 The Road to Mérida: Interviews with Participants in the "Out from the Shadows" Campaign | DRCNet Interview: Gustavo de Greiff, Former Attorney General of Colombia | DRCNet Interview: Luis Gómez, Andean Bureau Chief for Narco News | DRCNet Interview: Ricardo Sala, (Live With Drugs), Mexico | Mérida Addendum: Missing Paragraphs from Last Week's Giordano Interview | Rosenthal Medical Marijuana Trial Underway -- Medical Marijuana Supporters Stage Demos, Start Billboard Campaign | Bolivia: As Strife Continues, Armed Rebels Emerge -- Or Do They? | Latin American Anti-Prohibition Conference, February 12-15, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | Cumbre Internacional sobre Legalización, 15-Dec Febrero, Mérida, México | Cúpula Internacional sobre Legalização, 15-Dec de Fevereiro, Mérida, México | Newsbrief: Maryland Governor to Support Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: Southeast Asians to End Drugs | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Canadian Heroin Bust Study Finds Drug War Futile | Newsbrief: Peruvian Coca Growers Begin to Organize | Newsbrief: Mexico Disbands Anti-Drug Agency, Cites Corruption | DC Job Opportunity at DRCNet -- Campus Coordinator | The Reformer's Calendar

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