Mexico turns to army, drones for security

Published: Monday, Sep. 1, 2014 - 7:50 pm
Last Modified: Monday, Sep. 1, 2014 - 8:45 pm

The Mexican government says it is increasingly turning to the use of the army and drones in security patrols, reducing the role of the once-successful Marine forces.

In an annual report on the state of the nation submitted to Congress Monday, the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto said army patrols had increased 52.2 percent between September and July as compared to the same period of the previous year.

The number of marine patrols decreased 28.3 percent in the same period. The marines have carried out some of the biggest take-downs of major drug lords.

The government also gave one of its first detailed accountings of the use of drones, saying it had flown 149 security drone missions with over 581 hours of flying time.

The report said homicides, especially those relating to organized crime, had dropped over the last year. It said Mexico's homicide rate for all of 2013 was about 19 per 100,000 inhabitants, down from 22 just a year earlier.

However, the number of calls to a national security crime hotline rose 52 percent between September and July, to about 470,000, a rise the government attributed to increased confidence among the public in law enforcement agencies.

Many crimes in Mexico go unreported because victims fear police are corrupt or inefficient.

On that score, the government said that 273 criminal complaints had been filed against members of the 36,000-member Federal Police force between September and July, and 75 officers had been charged with abuses or corruption.

The government said kidnappings, one of the most stubbornly persistent crimes in Mexico, dropped by 6.8 percent in the first seven months of 2014. But because most abductions are not reported to police, it is hard to confirm any trend.

Some of the government programs revealed in the report are not widely publicized. For example, Mexico said it had stopped 560 people from entering the country because they had been charged with "crimes against minors" in the United States. That was apparently part of a Mexican government to stem child trafficking, pornography, abuse of abduction.

The government said it rescued 574 human-trafficking victims in the September-June period, including 391 minors.

A total of 1,331 kidnapped migrants (mainly Central Americans) were rescued by government forces over the same period, 236 of whom were minors.

Read more articles by MARK STEVENSON



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