Drug Cartels Effects on Corruption

Within Mexican Law Enforcement and Society









Joanna Benjamin

Law of Nationbuilding

Professor Henry Perritt

Spring, 2007





I.                   Model of Corruption Worldwide

            Corruption is defined as an official’s use of a station or office to procure some benefit either personally or for someone else, contrary to the rights of others.[1]  Police corruption commonly involves the taking of monetary bribes, abuse of authority or concealment of criminal enterprises.[2]  One view of police corruption includes those cases in which an officer misuses his authority to produce personal gain for himself or others. Another view of police corruption defines this abuse of authority as involving all police wrongdoing, including policy brutality.  However, that type of wrongdoing raises significantly different problems from those raised where personal gain is the primary objective.  Due to this difference in objectives, the response is accordingly different.[3]  For the purposes of this paper, the corruption to be considered is only that which an officer misuses his authority for personal gain.  

The organizational culture of the police can in itself foster a culture of corruption.  This culture of corruption often results from failures in four key areas:  a) recruitment, training, and promotion; b) resources, such as pay and equipment; c) systems of accountability within departments, courts and the law; and d) cultural traditions that inhibit the development of professional police standards.[4]  Only by confronting these four key areas and making changes within them, can we begin to bring to an end to this culture of acceptance that corruption often fosters.



A.     Who are the officers?

A police force is represented on the street by the officers themselves.  Who these officers are, their backgrounds and the training they receive can help one to understand where this corruption stems from. 

                        1.  Recruitment

            The background of police recruits often can tell a great deal about their mental and psychological health.[5]  Without proper methods for checking the backgrounds of potential officers, those with criminal backgrounds may gain employment with a law enforcement organization.[6]  In addition, by not implementing honest hiring methods, the culture of corruption can begin before a recruit even becomes a member of the department.[7] 

2.      Training

Even if a department’s attempts to thwart corruption fail during the recruitment period, there is still a possibility for training to mitigate some of those errors.[8]  During the training period a department must instill within its officers a desire to protect their integrity and an understanding of the limits of their authority.[9] 

Many officers in departments with high levels of corruption have very little formal education.[10]  For this reason proper training at this level can be vital to their understanding of proper procedures and to prepare them for the challenges that law enforcement officers face.  Without this training the officers will be ineffective to combat the crime.[11]

In addition, the training that an officer receives from his superiors or training officers should be of high moral character.[12]  Oftentimes it is during the field training with a superior officer, that the trainee learns and hones his corruption skills.[13]

B.     Resources

One of the greatest challenges facing police departments across the globe is a lack of funding for police services and equipment.[14]  While some argue that corruption largely stems from cultural and educational deficiencies, others place the blame on the lack of pay afforded to officers.[15] In these countries many officers turn to bribery and extortion to supplement their meager incomes.[16]  In addition, many departments require their officers to purchase their own firearms, uniforms and other equipment. [17]   

C.     Systems of Accountability

Without accountability or controls in place to monitor the actions of officers, corruption can continue unchecked.[18]  Oversight is important to stop those officers for which integrity alone is not enough to deter them from corruption.[19]  Accountability must exist both separate from the department and within the department through the police officers direct supervisors.[20]  When the supervisors themselves engage in this corruption or turn a blind eye to it, corruption continues to occur.  These systems of accountability can only exist if steps are taken to discipline the offending officers.[21]  When a department or another officer keeps silent regarding the corruption, they are helping to continue the culture of police corruption.[22]

In addition to the corruption within the police department, corruption can exist within all of the criminal justice system.  The job of the police is to enforce the laws of their jurisdiction.  If the laws of the criminal justice system unfavorably protect police officers who have committed crimes, it can become difficult to dismiss a corrupt officer. 

D.  Culture

A culture of corruption is very difficult to overcome.  In many countries where corruption continues to exist, it has been this way for many years.[23]  In these cases it can be quite difficult to change both the mind-set and the actions of the civilians and officers.[24]  In these countries it is often easier for citizens to pay off an officer and be on their way rather than receiving a ticket or being arrested.[25]  Before change can occur within these departments, the culture of the entire nation must change.[26]





II. Background on Mexico

Mexico is a Spanish-speaking country roughly three times the size of Texas, consisting of 31 states and one federal district comprising the capital, Mexico City.[27]  Mexico is the most populous Spanish speaking nation in the world.[28] 

A. Mexico’s Government

Mexico is a federal republic and has had a Constitution since 1917.[29]  Mexico’s government is comprised of a President elected to 6-year terms.[30]  Elected presidents are only allowed to serve one term.[31]  Mexico has a bicameral legislature divided into an upper chamber, Senate (Cámara de Senadores), and a lower chamber, Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados).[32]  In addition, Mexico has a judicial branch including a Supreme Court whose justices are appointed by the President with consent of the Senate.[33]  The judicial system is comprised of federal and local courts.[34] 

B. Police Forces

Mexico has a number of police forces at the federal, state and local levels.[35]  Many of the jurisdictions of these groups overlap and in 1984 the Mexican government created a national consulting board designed to “coordinate and advise police forces” throughout the country.[36]

The senior law enforcement body once was the plain-clothes Federal Judicial Police which was controlled by the attorney general.[37]  This group acted as an investigative agency whose foremost duty was to target drug trafficking.[38]  In 2001 this group was dismantled and the new unit, Agencia Federal de Investigación (AFI) was created by President Vicente Fox.[39]  This new group is thought of as similar to the United State’s FBI.[40]

In addition, at the federal level there is the Federal Preventative Police (PFP).[41]  This is the uniformed arm of the federal police and is also directed by Mexico’s Attorney General’s office.[42]

Mexico City also has its own police force known as the “Protection and Transit Directorate” or the “Federal District Police” which consists of some 29,000 officers.[43]  The Federal District comprises all of Mexico City.[44]  Each of the country’s other 31 states has their own State Judicial Police and Federal District Judicial Police.[45]  The State Judicial Police is under the supervision of the state’s governor, while the Federal District Judicial Police fall under the control of the Federal District Attorney General.[46]


III.             Corruption:  How is it tackled elsewhere?

Mexico is not the only place where corruption exists within the police forces.  While Mexico’s problems with corruption span many levels of both the police and government, other jurisdictions have also had to deal with corruption in their own ways.  Some methods for preventing and dealing with corruption within the ranks include independent commission to “police” the police.  These commissions are in place to field complaints from citizens and investigate claims of corruption within the ranks.  Another common thread found in the following case studies is a lack of complacency regarding corruption.  When these departments became aware of corruption or scandals, action was taken to ensure that it did not continue.  This is something that is currently not happening in Mexico.

A.  New York Police Department

The New York Police Department has had its fair share of corruption related

scandals in which they have been forced to deal with a variety of issues and different methods to tackle them.

            The NYPD Commission to Combat Corruption was created in 1995.[47]  This Commission is a permanent board designed to monitor and evaluate the anti-corruption programs, activities, commitment, and efforts of the NYPD.[48]  This Commission is completely independent from the NYPD and is comprised of commissioners, appointed by the Mayor, and includes a staff comprised of a number of attorneys.[49]

            The goal of this commission is to instill in the department the understanding that corruption will not be tolerated.[50]  In addition, they urge officers to come forward with information regarding corrupt activities without being singled out as “whistle-blowers” who are usually ripe for retaliation from other officers.[51]  This commission also investigates claims against civilian employees of the NYPD and plans on investigating the hiring process behind these civilian positions.[52]

            This commission is active in examining and reviewing all allegations of corruption.[53]  They attend all relevant meetings such as Internal Affairs steering meetings, NYPD policy and disciplinary meetings, and meetings with high ranking Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) personnel.[54]  The Commission takes appropriate action on complaints it receives from members of the public and members of the department.[55]  In addition, the Commission releases Reports regularly which can be categorized as audits and studies involving either IAB programs or the Police Department’s disciplinary system.[56]

  1. Los Angeles Police Department

The Los Angeles Police Department has also had scandals in the past, prompting

response from officials.  The biggest, most recent scandal has been the LAPD’s Rampart Corruption Scandal.[57]  The Rampart Scandal began in 1999 with a gang-affiliated officer and later spread to dozens of other officers.[58]  Due to this scandal, over 100 people were released from prison.[59]

            While the LAPD’s response to this scandal has been criticized, it is also important to consider what caused this rampant corruption within the department.[60]  The Rampart Scandal dealt greatly with brutality among the police force, however they share many of the same causes of corruption as that found in Mexican law enforcement.  The breakdown of managerial oversight, the discretion granted to the officers themselves, and failures on the part of the civilian oversight boards.[61]  In the case of the LAPD, the U.S. Department of Justice decided to intervene and order an investigation.  This investigation also attempted to combat the corruption that already existed.         

  1. Chicago Police Department

The first major corruption scandal within the Chicago Police Department, which

 sparked change in the department was the Summerdale Scandal of 1960.[62]  This scandal involved police officers burglarizing stores while on patrol with the help of a known burglar.[63]  At the time of this scandal, police officers were often known to “be on the take” due to chronically low wages and poor working conditions.[64] This scandal shook the city and prompted then Mayor Richard J. Daley to create a board to select a new commissioner and, in an act unusual for the CPD, they chose an outsider, O.W. Wilson.[65]  Wilson created an Internal Investigations Division in order to “police the police,” which at the time was an action disliked by the officers themselves.[66]  Currently the internal investigations division is referred to as the Internal Affairs Division.[67]  This Division is responsible for keeping track of complaints against officers.[68]  Additionally, in response to the growing need to patrol officers’ activities, including allegations of brutality, the Chicago Police Department created the Office of Professional Standards in 1974.[69] 

One national expert on internal affairs, Lou Reiter, has alleged that while Chicago has guidelines in place against police misconduct, they are not enforced by officials.[70]  In addition, a “blue wall of silence” has also been known to exist making it difficult to receive information from the officers.[71]

  1. Western Australia

In 2002, a Royal Commission headed by Hon. G.A. Kennedy QC, was created to

investigate whether any Western Australia Police officers had engaged in corrupt or criminal conduct.[72]  The Commission did find that corruption existed within the Western Australia Police force and concluded that the department was ineffective in monitoring these events and the procedures to deal with this corruption.[73]

In response to the Commission’s reports, The Western Australia Police

Department developed a Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) to respond to complaints of alleged misconduct by Western Australia police officers and public officers including officers employed in local government.[74]  The CCC employs about 150 people who investigate these claims.[75]  The CCC replaced the Anti-Corruption Commission in January 2004.[76]  With this change allowed the CCC greater freedom in their investigations.[77]  The CCC has the ability to hold public examinations, conduct integrity tests, run controlled operations, use assumed identities and is subject to investigation by a Parliamentary inspector.[78]

IV.              Drug Cartels

Mexico’s drug cartels started out as the younger sibling to the stronger, more powerful Columbian cartels.[79]  However, today these cartels have become independent and have helped Mexico to become the leading transit country for cocaine and heroin consumed in the United States.[80]

According to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) testimony, four organizations comprise the Mexican crime groups: the Tijuana organization; the Sonora Cartel; the Juarez cartel; and the Gulf group.[81]  These groups and other smaller ones control what some estimate to be a 142-billion dollar a year business in cocaine, marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine and other illicit drugs.[82]  Mexican cartels have surpassed Colombia’s cartels to become the “kingpins of this hemisphere’s drug trade.”[83]


A.  Tijuana Cartel

 The Arellano-Felix Organization (AFO) is commonly referred to as the Tijuana Cartel.[84]  It is currently run by the Arellano family after Miguel Angel Felix-Gallardo was incarcerated for his complicity in the 1989 murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena.[85]  Much of their drug distribution enters California through Baja from which it is distributed throughout the United States.[86]  

The Tijuana Cartel is considered the most violent of all the Mexican drug cartels.  Mexican enforcement officials describe their security as paramilitary in nature.[87]  They have been known to murder rival drug leaders, Mexican law enforcement officals who are not on their payroll, and members of their organization who fall out of favor or are suspected of collaborating with law enforcement officials.[88]

  1. Juarez Cartel

The Juarez cartel was headed by Amado Carillo Fuentes, once known as the most

powerful figure in the Mexican drug trade.[89]  This cartel had very strong ties to the Rodriquez Orejula organization in Cali, as well as family ties to the Ochoa brothers in Medellin, Colombia.[90]  For many years the Juarez cartel ran transport services for the Cali cartel and used aircrafts such as 727’s to fly cocaine from Colombia to Mexico.[91]  Carillo Fuentes died in July 1997 after plastic surgery to attempt to change his appearance.[92]  It has been rumored the Carillo Fuentes had ties to Mexico’s former drug czar Jesus Gutierrez-Rebollo.[93]

  1. Gulf Cartel

The Gulf cartel was headed by Juan Garcia Abrego and is based in Matamoros,

Tamaulipas State.[94]  It distributes cocaine to the United States, as far north as Michigan, New Jersey and New York.[95]  In October 1994, Juan’s brother Humberto was arrested by Mexican authorities on money laundering charges.[96]  Juan was arrested on January 14, 1996 by Mexican authorities.[97]  He was then expelled to the United States and arrested on a federal warrant from Texas charging him with conspiracy to import cocaine and the management of a continuing criminal enterprise.[98]

A violent gang of former Mexican soldiers, known as Los Zetas, are also

known to work for the Gulf cartel.[99]  The Zetas are known as being trained by United States Special Forces and have equipment similar to that of an American SWAT team.[100]  The Zetas are located along the U.S.-Mexico border.[101]  They routinely kill, kidnap, rob and torture.[102]  In addition, the Zetas are known to work with drug dealers within the United States.[103]  They enter the U.S. and commit crimes such as murder, and then reenter Mexico making it very hard for police to track them.[104]  The main focus for the Zetas and those soldiers whom they recruit is money.[105]

D.  Sonora Cartel

            The Sonora cartel operates out of Hermosillo, Agua Prieta, Guadalajara and Culican as well as the Mexican states of San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa and Sonora.[106]  This cartel has direct links to the Colombian cartel and operates routes into California.[107]  The Sonora cartel was led by Miguel Caro Quintero whose brother is currently in jail for his role in killing a DEA agent in 1985.[108]  Caro Quintero was wanted by the DEA and became a fugitive based on two federal indictments issued in Colorado in 1988 and 1993, and two more issued in Arizona 1994.[109]  He was arrested by Mexican authorities in 2001.[110]

V.                 Issues

A. Corrupt Prisons

Compounded with the difficulty in arresting and jailing these cartels leaders, is

the sad truth that many of these leaders continue their criminal activities while behind bars.[111]  These jails are often overcrowded without enough guards to properly watch over the inmate population.[112]  Smuggling in contraband including guns, drugs, money and mobile phones happens frequently.[113]  The prisoners often plan crimes from behind bars through the help of visitors, lawyers and the telephones they have access to.[114]  Bribes insure that the food and other articles requested by inmates get inside the prison.[115]  Some blame the prison officials for not cracking down on these types of activities.[116]

B.     Extradition to the United States

The United States and Mexico have had an extradition treaty in place since 1980.[117]  President Jimmy Carter signed the extradition treaty in 1978 which provided parties who had been charged with, or found guilty of, an offense committed in the United States and fled to Mexico, to be extradited back to the U.S.[118]  Originally the treaty did not allow for extradition of parties who faced life without parole, as this was not allowed under Mexican law.[119]  Again in 2001, the Supreme Court of Mexico decided that no extradition would be granted unless the requesting U.S. state gave assurances that a term of years would be imposed as opposed to a life sentence.[120]  In 2005 the Mexican Supreme Court changed this decision to allow for extradition to places where they face life without parole.  [121]  However, the ban against extradition is still in place in those cases in which a state could impose the death penalty.[122]

Long-term results of extradition of Mexicans to the United States are not yet available, however the recent successes have shown to be very positive.  The cartels in Mexico have continually been able to skirt the law by using intimidation, violence and bribery.[123]  The threat of extradition will, much the same as it did with the cartels in Colombia in the 1980s, create the type of consequences for these actions that many of the drug traffickers do not currently face.[124]  Extradition will also allow both the United States and Mexico to target high-level cartel leaders many of which are subjects of multiple federal indictments within the United States.[125]  The corrupt and inefficient nature of the Mexican police forces and criminal justice system will not be an issue if extradition to the United States is considered instead.  By placing these traffickers behind bars within the United States, their operations will be slowed or stalled creating penalties for their illegal actions.[126]

C.     President Calderon and the current administration

            After a controversial election, on December 1, 2006, President Felipe Calderon took office as Mexico’s president.[127]. Even before Calderon was declared victor, there were claims of fraud by his leftist opponent, Manuel Lopez Obrador.[128]  However Mexico’s top electoral court eventually found that Calderon had fairly won the presidency.[129]  

            One of Calderon’s campaign promises was a presidency offering absolute transparency.[130]  He also outlined a comprehensive plan for voters on how he planned to keep his administration corruption-free.[131]  At this year’s World Economic Forum, President Calderon again outlined the priorities for his six-year term which includes insuring public security, such as recent military sweeps to crack down on organized crime and corrupt local police.[132]

            President Calderon has practiced what he has preached early on by using a military presence to attack the cartels.[133]  Calderon began in January 2007, by sending 6,000 troops into his home state of Michoacan, followed by 3,000 more to the border city of Tijuana and also the tourist destination of Acapulco.[134]  This offensive has appeared to be successful, but analysts worry it is not a long term solution.[135]  Many compare this early offensive to that of past President Vicente Fox which resulted in more violence as the drug traffickers attempted to reestablish themselves after the attacks.[136]  However, unlike Fox who used the military only in support roles, Calderon has been using the military as the centerpiece of the effort.[137]

            But this skepticism has not stopped Calderon.  As recently as March 18, raids on local police departments continued in the state of Tabasco.[138]  These raids have typically involved federal police officers, soldiers and federal agents seizing the department and disarming the local police.[139]  The purpose of these raids was to retrieve the guns used by the police to determine if they had been used in any crimes.[140]

            In addition to using military troops and federal police in these cartel-run areas of Mexico, President Calderon has already begun extraditing drug lords to the United States for prosecution.[141]  Some of these cartel leaders had been continuing to run their organizations from behind bars in Mexican prisons.[142]  This action was a continuance of a promise made by Vicente Fox to increase extraditions to the United States.[143]

            President Calderon also announced this February that soldiers involved in the nationwide offensive against drug traffickers will receive a nearly 50 percent pay hike this year, retroactive to January 1.[144]  The President also said that the soldiers will be allowed to participate in a special housing credit program.[145]  These moves are designed to insulate the soldiers from the corrupt cartels.[146]  Many cartels target low-paid officers in order to protect them and their smuggling routes.[147]  In addition, President Calderon has cut top government salaries, excluding law enforcement and soldiers, by 10 percent.[148]       

            Unlike in the United States, Mexican presidents serve one 6-year term.[149]  This allows a president such as Calderon to shake up the status quo during his presidency.  Without the pressure of campaigning for a second term or continually trying to keep his supporters happy, Calderon will be able over the course of his presidency to make changes that he feels will work to stop the cartels the corruption that they breed.

            D.  Within the police departments

            One of the most important changes that must take place within the police departments is accountability.[150]  True internal affairs departments rarely exist within Mexican police departments.[151]  Record keeping is poor which results in poor documentation regarding misconduct or firing of police officers.[152]  This results in court orders to reinstate the fired officers.[153]  Accountability even spread into the most fundamental aspects of police work in that many officers are even unsure of which procedures or actions to take to avoid problems.[154]

            The most basic way for the police to overcome this lack of accountability is for the police themselves to be policed by a civilian review board.[155]  A civilian policing body would answer to elected officials and would investigate the police.[156]  Currently the police seem free to do as they please without any true chain of command to answer to.  With this system in place, the officers would see that there are consequences for their corrupt actions. 

            The chain of command that currently exists within Mexican law enforcement is corrupt on all layers.[157]  Part of the reason that this is true is a lack of impunity in Mexico.[158]  All of the officers, from the lowest ranks to the highest, understand that their actions will not be punished, and this mindset makes it possible for them to continue their illegal ways.

            E. Criminal Justice System

Many analysts argue that Mexico cannot fully eradicate itself of its corrupt culture, without a complete overhaul of its judicial system.[159]  They argue that more transparency is needed in the process, as well as better investigations, and more mechanisms for accountability and oversight within the military and police.[160]  These analysts argue that without these reforms any positive changes in the anti-drug fight will ultimately not be successful.[161]

Mexico’s criminal justice system differs greatly from that of the United States.[162]  One of the greatest differences is the absence of right to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty in the Mexican Constitution.[163] 

            Amnesty International recently released a report detailing the flaws in the Mexican criminal justice system.[164]  In regard to corruption, their study exposes that the corruption rises into the ranks of judges and prosecutors.[165]  The Mexican Constitution requires a judicial arrest warrant in order to detain.[166]  This requires evidence, which in some cases is insufficient or fabricated due to corrupt prosecutors.[167]

            In addition, the 1917 Mexican Constitution requires trial and sentencing to be completed within 12 months for those crimes which would carry at least a 2 year sentence.[168]  In most cases this requirement is not met.[169]  In most criminal cases, trials are by judge and not by jury.[170]

In response to Amnesty International’s, in March 2007, President Calderon

announced plans for sweeping reforms to Mexico’s criminal justice system.[171] Calderon plans to send proposals to Congress that would make it easier to fire corrupt police officers and seize criminals’ property.[172]  In addition, Calderon has said that he would like to see Mexico’s trials resemble more closely those in the United States.[173]  Currently Mexico conducts most of its trials behind closed doors with the judge basing his ruling mostly on written submissions.[174]

            President Calderon has also advocated switching to a uniform national criminal code.[175]  He would also like to see a measure passed to protect witnesses’ identities in sensitive cases such as those involving organized crime.[176]  Many of the President’s ideas would necessitate change within the Mexican Constitution, but are a positive sign that change is on the horizon for the Mexican criminal justice system.[177]

  1. Investigative Independent Commission

One important step to combating institutional corruption such as that found in

Mexico is to implement an independent commission with authority to investigate.  As found in the anti-corruption commissions of Peru and Uruguay, it is important to arm these commissions with investigative and prosecutorial authority.[178]  In addition, this commission could participate in public education and design strategies to prevent corruption.[179]

            This independent commission will operate more successfully if it has the ability to field anonymous complaints from civilians, law enforcement officers and government officials.  By allowing these individuals to anonymously report acts of corruption, it will urge them to come forward in greater numbers.  In addition, these complaints will assist the commission in their investigations. 

In Hong Kong for example, their Independent Commission Against Corruption runs a hotline for citizens to report corrupt acts and it is guaranteed that every allegation will be investigated.[180]  This commission promises to divulge reports to officers on a “need to know basis” thereby protecting potential informants.[181]  In cases where anonymity cannot be protected, whistle-blowers need statutory protection.[182]  Legislation could be used to protect the whistle-blowers or even to reward them for coming forward.[183] 

Journalists also play an important role in investigations into corruption.[184]  Investigative journalism exposes corruption and helps to change the public view.[185]  By exposing corruption, journalists force the government to look at the culture of corruption.[186]  In addition, the general population will be more apt to join the fight against corruption once they are exposed to it through the media.  The media is a powerful source and one which can help to jumpstart the fight against corruption by exposing corruption at all levels.

  1. Culture of Corruption

In Mexico, corruption can be described as being “part of our DNA.”[187]  Not only

has corruption infiltrated law enforcement departments, but corruption rises through the Mexican government.[188]  Some have described this corruption as a national pathology which begins at a very early age.[189]  It can be argued that this corruption begins when Mexicans are children and are taught from their parents to fear and distrust authorities.[190]  These people do not necessarily believe that corruption is right, but rather partake in it because it is practical for their everyday existence.[191]  However, some political scientists believe that Mexicans are not inherently corrupt.[192]  They claim this is evident by looking at Mexicans who have moved to other countries and behave the way the laws and rules of that country dictate.[193]

            To begin to change the culture of corruption within the Mexican public, education must be the major tool.  By educating the children of Mexico at an early age through the school system, there will likely be greater success at changing the culture of corruption.  School-based programs such as Culture of Lawfulness, implemented in Sicily and Hong Kong, help to mobilize societal support in the war on corruption.[194]  These programs utilized the school system and their existing resources such as classrooms and teachers, to educate the students about being good citizens and the rule of law.[195]  Currently Mexico has begun institutionalizing this program into its school system.[196]  This U.S.-supported program is an important step in the right direction towards educating the next generation of Mexicans.[197]  By reaching out to the children, this program aims to eventually touch the families of and communities in which these children live.[198]  In addition to schoolchildren, Culture of Lawfulness is reaching into police academies to education entry-level officers and supervising police about how the rule of law contributes to good and effective police work.[199] 

In order to begin to change this culture, education is one of the most important tools available and must be used more thoroughly.  Realistically speaking, this culture of corruption cannot be changed overnight.  These experiences and beliefs in Mexico’s corruption have been ingrained through generations.  By educating future generations, Mexicans will begin to see that there are other options that exist.


VI.              Paper’s View

            This paper has given an overview of the various ways in which the corruption of the Mexican police forces by the drug cartels can be eradicated.  The most important part of the effort to prevent corruption from seeping into the police forces through the drug cartels is to insure that all the significant actors are working together in accord.

            While previous administrations have attempted to stop this corruption, none has yet succeeded.  This is in part due to the fact that they have been unable to get all of the groups together.  The executive, judicial, legislative and law enforcement branches must all be on board in terms of working toward this common goal.

            The new administration in the executive branch has been actively working towards this goal from its first day in office.  By taking this stand against corruption they have already started off on the right foot.  Utilizing the army and soldiers in a show of force against the cartels is monumental.  They must continue to stand up against these groups.  Previous administrations have failed in their attempts by not continuing with the pace and strength that they began.

            In addition, the executive branch must urge the legislature to amend the Constitution in order to limit the ways in which corruption can leak into the justice system.  As of today the Mexican Constitution does not provide enough protections for those charged with crimes.  This lack of protection allows for corruption by the police, prosecutor and judges. 

            The legislature must also force bills and amendments through to passage.  Previous attempts to change and amend laws have been left to die in the legislature before they are passed.  This is a waste of resources and time and cannot continue to happen if Mexico plans on changing.

            The culture of corruption within the police department must also cease.  This will not be an overnight job as this corruption has been bred into generations of Mexicans and their law enforcement.  However, if nothing is ever done to combat this corruption, the culture will continue to accept it.  This culture change must occur both within the people of Mexico and its law enforcement.  This includes creating an independent commission staffed with outside members, possibly even international members.  This would allow for a different take on the current situation and the ability to think from the perspective of another culture, possibly one that has previously targeted a problem such as this.  Penalties must be levied against those which do not obey their sworn duty.  Corruption cannot be overlooked as it teaches younger generations that it is acceptable.

            A great problem within the Mexican law enforcement culture is a lack of an ability to check on the background of officers applying to the different departments.  By not having a nationwide computer system in place to adequately research potential officers backgrounds, the applicants are able to hide whatever they do not want an employer to find out.  This is of critical importance in rooting out corruption.  As long as corrupt officers are able to jump between departments they bring with their corrupt behaviors to their next job. 

            Not only are the officers themselves of great importance, but so are the cartels.  It may seem as though the only way to stop this flood of corruption is to get rid of the cartels completely, that is a topic for another paper.  This paper serves to show us that the most important task in this fight is to separate the cartels from the police.  The cartels may continue to exist, but the first step is to make sure that they do so without the assistance of the police.

            Once the separation of the police and the cartels take place, then the police can begin to fight against the cartels.  While the police continue to be infiltrated by the cartels they are unable to go up against them, as many officers continue to work with them.

            Educating the population that other options besides corruption exist is of immense importance.  Many of the people in Mexico do not believe that corruption is right, but go along with it to make their lives easier.  Through education they will begin to see that change can only happen if they stand up to the corruption.  A good place to start this change is in the younger generations who have not yet experienced a lifetime of corruption and will likely be more responsive to change.




VII.           Conclusion

            This paper has tackled the difficult topic of corruption within the Mexican police forces and the effects of the drug cartels on this corruption.  Mexico has a culture of corruption that starts with the police and works its way through the government.  The public has come to accept this culture of corruption rather than fight against it and they have resolved themselves to living with it.  Mexico’s police lack many of the resources which help to shield other police departments from corruption.  Civilian review boards as well as greater accountability through the ranks of the police would help to “police the police.”  Changes must be made within the criminal justice system which work along with the changes in the police departments.  The current administration has begun a strong fight against the cartels and the corruption that they foster.  It is not necessary to tackle the job of eradicating the cartels in order to stop corruption within the police.  However, a separation must be made between the police and the cartels.  As long as they continue to work together, law enforcement will never be successful. 

            Eliminating the cartels is a monumental task in itself.  This paper does not attempt to hypothesize regarding solutions for that task.  What this paper seeks to do is to show that better accountability and oversight within the government controlled units such as police, prosecutors, judges, etc. will naturally allow for less corruption within these ranks.  By changing the culture of corruption to one of loyalty to the badge and honesty to the public, Mexico will be able to create a police force and judicial system that will be successful.


[1] Black’s Law Dictionary (Bryan A. Garner ed., 8th ed. West 2004).

[2] Hubert Williams, Core Factors of Police Corruption Across the World 85, http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/publications/core_factors.pdf (accessed February 10, 2007)

[3] Herman Goldstein, Police Corruption, 3, (Second Printing, Police Foundation 1975).

[4] Hubert Williams, Core Factors of Police Corruption Across the World 85, http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/publications/core_factors.pdf (accessed February 10, 2007)

[5] Hubert Williams, Core Factors of Police Corruption Across the World 85, http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/publications/core_factors.pdf (accessed February 10, 2007)

[6] Id.

[7] Id. 

[8] Id.

[9] Id. 

[10] Kevin Sullivan, Mexican Police Put Bite Into Crime, Washington Post A16 (2000)

[11] Kevin Sullivan, Mexican Police Put Bite Into Crime, Washington Post A16 (2000)

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Nelson Artega Botello and Adrian Lopez Rivera, Everything in this Job is Money, World Policy Journal 61 (2000).

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Hubert Williams, Core Factors of Police Corruption Across the World 91, http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/publications/core_factors.pdf (accessed February 10, 2007)

[19] Id.

[20] Id.

[21] Id.

[22] Id.

[23] Hubert Williams, Core Factors of Police Corruption Across the World 94, http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/publications/core_factors.pdf (accessed Feb. 10, 2007)

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

[27] U.S. Department of State, Consular Information Sheet:  Mexico, http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_970.html (accessed Feb. 14, 2007)

[28] U.S. Department of State, Background Note: Mexico, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35749.htm (accessed Apr. 11, 2007)

[29] Id.

[30] Mexico Presidencia De La Republica, http://www.presidencia.gob.mx/en/felipecalderon/http://www.presidencia.gob.mx/en/ (accessed Apr. 11, 2007

[31] U.S. Department of State, Background Note: Mexico, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35749.htm (accessed Apr. 11, 2007)

[32] CIA World Factbook: Mexico, https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/mx.html, (accessed Apr. 11, 2007)

[33] Id.

[34] U.S. Department of State, Background Note: Mexico, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35749.htm (accessed Apr. 11, 2007)

[35] Library of Congress Country Studies: Mexico, Police and Law Enforcement Organizations (June 1996) (available at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/mxtoc.html ).

[36] Id.

[37] Library of Congress Country Studies: Mexico, Police and Law Enforcement Organizations (June 1996) (available at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/mxtoc.html )

[38] Id.

[39] Id.

[40] Id.

[41] Mario Gonzalez-Roman, Security Corner: Police, (Feb. 5, 2007) (available at http://www.solutionsabroad.com/a­_securitycorner-police.asp )

[42] Id.

[43] Library of Congress Country Studies: Mexico, Police and Law Enforcement Organizations (June 1996) (available at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/mxtoc.html )

[44] Id.

[45] Id.

[46] Id.

[47] NYPD Commission to Combat Police Corruption, http://www.nyc.gov/html/ccpc/html/home/home.shtml, City of New York, 2007

[48] Id.

[49] Id.

[50] Id.

[51] Id.

[52] Id.

[53] Id.

[54] Id.

[55] Id.

[56] Id.

[57] Terror in our streets, L.A. Daily News Special Report, Oct. 24, 2004 (available at http://lang.dailynews.com/socal/gangs/articles/dnp7_side.asp).

[58] Id.

[59] Id.

[60] Renford Reese, The Multiple Causes of the LAPD Rampart Scandal, California State Polytechnic University, Fall 2003 (available at http://www.csupomona.edu/~jis/2003/Reese.pdf).

[61] Id.

[62] Richard C. Lindberg, The Babbling Burglar and the Summerdale Scandal: The Lessons of Police Malfeasance, (available at http://www.richardlindberg.net/). 

[63] Id. 

[64] Id. 

[65] Id.

[66] Id. 

[67] Shielded from Justice:Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States, Chicago Police, http://humanrightswatch.org/reports98/police/uspo52.htm (accessed April 17, 2007).

[68] Id. 


[70] David Heinzmann, Chicago Brass Ignores culprits key expert says, Chicago Tribune, Nov. 29 2006 (available at http://www.law.uchicago.edu/futterman-police-corruption/index.html). ,

[71] Id.

[72] GA Kennedy,  Government Commissions of Inquiry Publications, Royal Commission Interim Report,  Dec. 2002, (available at http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/publications/publications.nsf/DocByAgency/508A1C242921320148256CD8001FAB33/$file/PRCInterimReport.pdf ).

[73] Id.

[74] Corruption and Crime Commission of Western Australia, http://www.ccc.wa.gov.au/ (accessed April 17, 2007).

[75] Id.

[76] Id.

[77] Id.

[78] Id.

[79] Steve Macko, Today’s Mexican Drug Cartels, Vol. 3-338, ERRI Daily Intelligence Report (December 4, 1997), http://www.emergency.com/mexdrg97.htm.

[80] Jim Kouri, Mexico and the Drug Cartels, http://www.emergency.com/mexdrg97.htm, (accessed February 14, 2007). 

[81] Sen. Caucus on Intl. Narcotics Control, and the H.R. Subcomm. on Coast Guard and Mar. Transportation, Hearings on National Drug Control Strategy and Interdiction, 104th Cong. (September 12, 1996).

[82] Mexico: Drug Cartels a Growing Threat, worldpress.org, Nov. 6, 2006 (available at http://www.worldpress.org/Americas/2549.cfm).

[83] Id.

[84] DEA Background Information, Arellano-Felix Organization, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/mexico/etc/arellano.html (February 1997).

[85] Id.

[86] Id.

[87] Id.

[88] Id.

[89] Sen. Caucus on Intl. Narcotics Control, and the H.R. Subcomm. on Coast Guard and Mar. Transportation, Hearings on National Drug Control Strategy and Interdiction, 104th Cong. (September 12, 1996).

[90] Id.

[91] Id.

[93] Id.

[94] Sen. Caucus on Intl. Narcotics Control, and the H.R. Subcomm. on Coast Guard and Mar. Transportation, Hearings on National Drug Control Strategy and Interdiction, 104th Cong. (September 12, 1996).

[95] DEA Background Information, The Gulf Cartel, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/mexico/etc/gulf.html (February 1997)

[96] Id.

[97] Id.

[98] Id.

[99] Zetas break silence, NewsChannel 5-Weslaco, Texas, (June 6, 2006) http://newschannel5.tv/2006/5/22/7820/Zetas-break-silence.

[100] Id.

[101] Id.

[102] Id.

[103] Id.

[104] Id.

[105] Id.

[106] Sen. Caucus on Intl. Narcotics Control, and the H.R. Subcomm. on Coast Guard and Mar. Transportation, Hearings on National Drug Control Strategy and Interdiction, 104th Cong. (September 12, 1996).

[107] Id.

[108] DEA Background Information, Caro-Quintero Organization, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/mexico/etc/caro.html (February 1997).

[109] U.S. Department of State, Miguel Angel Caro-Quintero, http://www.state.gov/p/inl/narc/rewards/7143.htm

[110] Id.

[111] Mariusa Reyes, Crime Behind Bars in Mexico jails, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk (Nov. 17, 2005)

[112] Id.

[113] Id.

[114] Id.

[115] Id.

[116] Id.

[117] Extradition/Foreign Prosecution, Mexico, http://www.escapingjustice.com/extrafpo.htm, (last updated 9/3/03).

[118] Id.

[119] Mexico alters extradition rules, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4483746.stm (Nov. 30, 2005).

[120] Extradition/Foreign Prosecution, supra n. 115.

[121] Mexico alters extradition rules, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4483746.stm (Nov. 30, 2005).

[122] Id.

[123] DEA Congressional Testimony given by Donnie Marshall, before the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Human Resources and Drug Policy, May 13, 1999, (available at http://cybersafe.gov/dea/pubs/cngrtest/ct051399.htm ).

[124] Id.

[125] Id.

[126] Id.

[127] Crime and Policing in Mexico, The Economist, Jan. 25. 2007 (available at http://www.economist.com/world/la/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_RVJPDTT).

[128] Calderon declared Mexican winner, BBC News, Sept. 6, 2006 (available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5316840.stm).

[129] Id.

[130] Heather Murphy, The Mexican Presidential Candidates, washingtonpost.com, (June 9, 2006) (available at http://washingtonpost.com)

[131] Id.

[132] Calderon provides hope for Mexico—Wait and See, http://worldmoneywatch.com/CalderonMexico.htm, (accessed Mar. 22, 2007)

[133] Feature: In Mexico, Now It’s Calderon’s Drug War, Issue #470, Drug War Chronicle, (Jan. 26, 2007), http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/470/in­_mexico­_its_calderons_drug_war_now. 

[134] Id.

[135] Id.

[136] Sara Miller Llana, With Calderon In, A new war on Mexico’s mighty drug cartels, Christian Science Monitor (Jan. 22, 2007).

[137] Id.

[138] James C. McKinley Jr., Mexico Questions Police Officials About Ambush, N.Y. Times A5, (Mar. 19, 2007).

[139] Id.

[140] Id.

[141] Traci Carl, Mexico:  Threats won’t end drug crackdown, El Paso Times (Mar. 11, 2007).

[142] Extradition of 15 Mexican Criminals, U.S. DEA News Release, Media Conference Call, (Jan. 22, 2007).

[143] Rob DeVries, Mexico Extradites Cartel Kingpins to U.S., Jurist Legal News and Research, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Jan. 20, 2007 (available at http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2007/01/mexico-extradites-cartel-kingpins-to.php).

[144] To curb corruption, Calderon boosts wages by 46 percent, El Universal Wire Services (Feb. 20. 2007).  (available at http://www.eluniversal.com/mx.miami/23488.html).

[145] Id.

[146] Id.

[147] Id.

[148] Id.

[149] Mexican Constitution of 1917, Ch. III, art. 83.

[150] Human Rights First, Mexico Policing Project: Creating Accountable Police in Mexico, (available at http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/mexico_policing/mxp_04.htm).

[151] Id.

[152] Id.

[153] Id.

[154] Id.

[155] Id.

[156] Id. 

[157] Mexico Policing Project, supra n. 149

[158] Lennox Samuels, In Mexico, corruption runs deep, San Luis Obispo Tribune, Dec. 29, 2005 (available at http://www.libertypost.org/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=122921).

[159] Feature: In Mexico, Now It’s Calderon’s Drug War, Drug War Chronicle, #470, (drug policy newsletter) (Jan. 26, 2007) (available at http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/470/ ).

[160] Id.

[161] Id.

[162] Mexico’s Criminal Justice System: A Guide for U.S. Citizen’s Arrested in Mexico, U.S. Consulate General in Tijuana, (available at http://tijuana.usconsulate.gov ).

[163] Katerina Ossenova, Mexican Criminal Justice System ‘gravely flawed’, Jurist Legal News and Research, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Feb. 8, 2007, (available at http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2007/02/mexican-criminal-justice-system-gravely.php)

[164] Injustice and Impunity: Mexico’s flawed criminal justice system, Amnesty International, (Feb. 7, 2007). (available at http://web.amnesty.org/library/INDEX ).

[165] Id.

[166] Id.

[167] Id.

[168] U.S. Department of State, Background Note: Mexico, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35749.htm (accessed Apr. 11, 2007)

[169] Id.

[170] Id.

[171] Mark Stevenson, Mexican Leader Proposes Justice Reforms, Associated Press, Mar. 9, 2007.

[172] Id.

[173] Id.

[174] Id.

[175] Id. 

[176] Id.

[177] Id.

[178] Center for Democracy and Governance, A Handbook on  Fighting Corruption, Feb. 1999, 10 (available at http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/democracy_and_governance/publications/pdfs/pnace070.pdf)

[179] Id. at 10.

[180] A Handbook on Fighting Corruption, supra n. 177, at 11.

[181] Id.

[182] Id.

[183] Id.

[184] A Handbook on Fighting Corruption, supra n.177, at 14.

[185] Id.

[186] Id.

[187] Samuels, supra n. 157.

[188] Id.

[189] Id.

[190] Id.

[191] Id.

[192] Samuels, supra n. 157.

[193] Id.

[194] Reducing Corruption, ONDCP Fact Sheet, (last update Mar. 2005)  (available at http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/international/factsht/reduc_corrupt.html).

[195] Id.

[196] Id.

[197] Id.

[198] Id.

[199] Id.