Pubdate: Fri, 17 Jan 2003
Source: Arizona Daily Sun (AZ)
Copyright: 2003 Arizona Daily Sun


MEXICO CITY - Mexican army troops and police inspectors raided offices of 
the federal anti-drug police in 11 of Mexico's 31 states Thursday, and 
investigators said hundreds of police agents are under investigation for 

The massive anti-corruption raid came after seven drug agents were arrested 
over the weekend for holding unregistered drugs and drug suspects, one of 
many documented cases in recent years of police protecting drug traffickers 
in Mexico.

Hundreds of federal police agents or employees are under investigation for 
possible offenses ranging from bribery to abuse of authority, Angel 
Buendia, a top Justice Department inspector, told a news conference, noting 
that 1,180 such cases have been investigated since 2000.

"This is an operation aimed at combating impunity and corruption wherever 
they may be within the Justice Department," Buendia, told a news conference.

The dozens of anti-drug agents under investigation were not arrested in the 
raids on offices of the Federal Special Prosecutor's Office for Drug 
Crimes, or FEADS in 11 states.

FEADS offices were raided in Sonora, Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, Nayarit, 
Chiapas, Guerrero, Baja California, Oaxaca, Tabasco, Yucatan and Jalisco.

"No mention was made of any agent having been detained" in the raids, said 
Elizabeth Juarez, a Justice Department spokesman. "Nor did the army 'take 
over' the offices, the soldiers were simply helping police (inspectors)."

Local media reported that the raids may have also been aimed at seizing 
possibly incriminating documents from the offices.

Thursday's raids marked the most massive strike against police corruption 
in recent years in Mexico. Heavily-armed soldiers and FEADS investigators 
took control of the offices and posted guards around them.

Television footage showed soldiers with full battle gear and assault rifles 
posted outside the FEADS office in Tapachula, a city near the Guatemalan 

The raids followed a shocking discover made over the weekend, when 7 FEADS 
agents in Tijuana were charged with illegally detaining two drug smugglers, 
then offering to free them and return their drugs in exchange for a bribe 
of US$2 million.

On Thursday, a judge in northern Baja California state ordered the seven to 
stand trial on the drug charges.

The agents were arrested earlier by Mexican soldiers for holding more than 
four tons of marijuana that had not been registered with the government. 
The packages of marijuana were found today at offices used by the FEADS in 
the border city of Tijuana.

But Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha said Thursday's raids 
weren't just a reaction to the Tijuana case, but rather part of a strategy 
to take corruption head-on and restructure federal police agencies.

"This isn't a reaction to the problem in Tijuana, but rather part of a 
planned strategy," Macedo said.

"This allows us to start the work of restructuring ... with a new special 
prosecutors' office whose personnel will be subject to previous review and 

Federal agents have long been tied to Mexico's drug trade, and President 
Vicente Fox's government has spent the last two years trying to purge 
corruption from its ranks.

Several high-ranking government officials have been arrested for protecting 
smugglers or participating directly in the drug trade, including former 
Quintana Roo state Gov. Mario Villanueva.

While officials previously preferred a piecemeal approach when corruption 
came to light in one office or another, they now appear to have launched a 
frontal, nationwide assault on the problem.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart