Enrique Pena Nieto, currently the front runner in Mexico's election planned for July, has announced that if he is elected he plans on creating a Federal paramilitary police force so he can begin to withdraw the Army and Navy from the fight against the drug cartels.
Scott Stewart, in his most recent Stratfor article, uses that announcement to discuss paramilitary police forces in general, and also the attempts Mexico has so far taken to reform their police forces.
The beginning of Scott's article is excerpted below, with a link to the full article, which has a map of the location of Mexico's cartels, at the end of the excerpt.
Special police forces battling druggies naturally brought to mind the old TV show The Mod Squad, and so its female lead, Peggy Lipton, was an easy choice to get the nod as this article's Hot Stratfor Babe.
The Mod Squad was a 1960s TV show that featured some troubled, yet groovy, young kids who got in trouble with the law and agreed to work undercover for the police to avoid jail time. However, they were good narcs not bad narcs because the used their street smarts, grasp of hippie slang and impeccable fashion sense (see picture to right) to infiltrate criminal gangs ran by nefarious adults who were corrupting their peers.
I never really watched the show, although I probably would watch it now on the theory that it has probably aged from being a half-baked police drama to to giggle inducing bit of kitschy, hippie foolishness.
As for Ms Lipton, I was surprised to see how busy she's been when I looked at her credits. I've seen other things she was in, but can't say I remember her in any of them. She has the kind of classic, but vanilla, blonde prettiness that gets cast a lot in Hollywood.
Curiously, she is involved in a bit of a political scandal. In 2004 she had cancer and there were reports that a NY official named Jack Chartier supplied her with a 24-hour chauffeured car payed for by the tax payers of New York. Although she wasn't doing any thing illegal, there is -- or was (I'm too lazy to look up what became of the case) -- an ethics investigation over the matter.
Mexico's Plan to Create a Paramilitary Force
By Scott Stewart,April 19, 2012
Institutional Revolutionary Party presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto, the front-runner in the lead-up to Mexico's presidential election in July, told Reuters last week that if elected, he would seek to increase the size of the current Mexican federal police force. Pena Nieto also expressed a desire to create a new national gendarmerie, or paramilitary police force, to use in place of the Mexican army and Marine troops currently deployed to combat the heavily armed criminal cartels in Mexico's most violent hot spots. According to Pena Nieto, the new gendarmerie force would comprise some 40,000 agents.
As Stratfor has previously noted, soldiers are not optimal for law enforcement functions. The use of the military in this manner has produced accusations of human rights abuses and has brought criticism and political pressure on the administration of President Felipe Calderon. However, while the Calderon administration greatly increased the use of the military in the drug war, it was not the first administration in Mexico to deploy the military in this manner. Even former President Vicente Fox, who declared war on the cartels in 2001, was not the first to use the military in this manner. For many decades now, the Mexican government has used the military in counternarcotics operations, and the Mexican military has been used periodically to combat criminals and bandits in Mexico's wild and expansive north for well over a century.
In recent years, Mexico has had very little choice but to use the military against the cartels due to the violent nature of the cartels themselves and the rampant corruption in many municipal and state police forces. The creation of a new paramilitary police force would provide the Mexican government with a new option, allowing it to remove the military from law enforcement functions. But such a plan would be very expensive and would require the consent of both houses of the Mexican Congress, which could pose political obstacles. But perhaps the most difficult task will be creating a new police force not susceptible to the corruption that historically has plagued Mexican law enforcement agencies.
Paramilitary Police Forces
The concept of a paramilitary police force is not new. Such police forces have existed for years in Europe in the form of the Carabinieri in Italy, the Guardia Civil in Spain and Gendarmerie Nationale in France. As the name of the Italian paramilitary police agency implies, such police normally were deployed in remote areas and armed with carbines, heavier arms than those employed by most urban police officers. Indeed, even the British, whose police officers were traditionally unarmed, created well-armed paramilitary police agencies in their rugged and remote colonial holdings.
Some of these organizations still exist, including the Pakistani Frontier Constabulary and the Indian Assam Rifles. In Latin America, the Chilean Carabineros have a long, and sometimes checkered, history. In 2006 the Colombian government established a modern paramilitary police force under the Directorate of Carabineros and Rural Security that was intended to help address the threats posed by the insurgent groups, former-paramilitary criminal bands ("bacrim") and narcotics traffickers in Colombia's hard-to-police rural regions.
Due to the Colombian government's success in combating drug cartels and the country's growing military proficiency, the Colombians increasingly have become involved in training personnel from other countries in a variety of skills, such as helicopter flying and long-range jungle patrolling. This Colombian training is very attractive to countries such as Mexico. For this reason, the Colombians have begun exerting a growing influence on Mexican counternarcotics thinking and strategy. In fact, the Mexican and Colombian attorneys general just signed an agreement April 17 to share information pertaining to narcotics smuggling. Because of this influence, it is likely that the Colombian Carabineros have played a big part in shaping the thinking of Pena Nieto's advisers who suggested a similar paramilitary police force for Mexico.
Unlike military troops, paramilitary police are police officers and receive police training, which is quite different from military training. But paramilitary police officers are normally more heavily armed than regular police officers and receive supplementary military-type training, which involves things like fire and maneuver and patrolling. They also have law enforcement authority, which means they can conduct investigations and make arrests. Although paramilitary police have been accused of human rights abuses in some places, by and large they are better suited for dealing with civilians than are soldiers, and they tend to create less tension. Tensions arising from military actions can be significant: In 2011, the Mexican National Human Rights Commission received 2,200 complaints against the Mexican army and navy.
Pena Nieto also has called for the Federal Police to be expanded from 40,000 to 50,000 officers. Calderon submitted a police reform plan to the Mexican Congress in September 2008 that created the current federal police force. Calderon's reform plan integrated the two existing federal law enforcement agencies, the Federal Preventive Police and the Federal Investigation Agency, into one organization called simply the Federal Police.