HomeNewsAnalysisAs Federal Forces Withdraw, Juarez Police Must Hold their Own
ANALYSIS

As Federal Forces Withdraw, Juarez Police Must Hold their Own

MEXICO / 27 JUL 2011 BY GEOFFREY RAMSEY EN

Thousands of Federal Police who have overseen security in Mexico's most violent city for the past year are set to withdraw in the coming months -- but whether Ciudad Juarez’s local police are up to the job remains to be seen.

In September, Mexico’s Federal Police (Policia Federal - PF) will begin a phased withdrawal from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. As Milenio reported, around 5,500 federal police officers have been stationed there since April 2010, when the government announced that the PF would take over law enforcement functions from the army in the troubled city. Since then, the military has taken a lower-key role in security, continuing to conduct patrols but leaving law enforcement to the federal police force.

The country’s Public Security Ministry (Secretaria de Seguridad Publica - SSP) has stated that the plan does not amount to a complete withdrawal, as some PF special units will stay at their posts, and the Juarez Federal Police Command Center will remain open. In total, 1,500 federal police officers will stay on when the roll-back is completed in March 2012.

The announcement will likely be welcomed by local authorities, who have had a strained relationship with Federal Police in recent months. In January, one of Mayor Hector Murguia’s bodyguards was shot and killed by two federal agents, in what they claimed was a case of mistaken identity. In May, the mayor clashed with Federal Police yet again after they followed his vehicle. Although the confrontation lasted only a matter of minutes, the heated exchange ended with police pointing their weapons at Murgia’s entourage.

The latest incident of friction between federal and local officials occurred on June 25, when federal police fired on Juarez police chief Julian Leyzaola as he arrived at the scene of a deadly prison riot. In response to accusations of wrongdoing, the officers claimed they were merely doing their duty, as Leyzaola had driven through a checkpoint without stopping or identifying himself.

In a recent interview with the El Paso Times, Leyzaola himself admitted that there is very little cooperation between his department and federal officials. "With the Federal Police, there is no coordination,” Leyzaola said. “They have their work programs and we are starting our own, but there is no coordination."

He also expressed doubt about the federal forces' effectiveness in the struggle against drug cartels in the city, saying “Their current responsibilities are actually my responsibilities, not theirs. And it's not an aggression. They gradually have to reduce their number of officers in the city. Whether they want to do it in collaboration with us or they want to do it alone, it's their decision."

But many in the city do not share this view; as CNN Mexico reports, civil society groups in Juarez are split on the matter. While the Federal Police have been accused of human rights abuses such as arbitrary detention and using torture to obtain forced confessions, many are concerned that the municipal police lack the level of professionalism necessary to fill the gap. Since taking office in March, Leyzaola has fired some 160 officers from the force on grounds of corruption, and last month the police chief estimated that at least 400 more will be dismissed this year.

Ultimately, there is room for cautious optimism in assessing the future of security in Juarez. As InSight Crime has reported, the city’s murder rate has fallen slightly this year, indicating that law enforcement efforts have succeeded in tamping down on drug-related violence. While President Felipe Calderon claimed in May that this was mostly the work of the Federal Police, he offered little in terms of evidence to support this. With the withdrawal of the federal forces, both his administration and the Mexican public will be keeping an anxious watch on the rate of violence in the border city.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

HONDURAS / 31 AUG 2012

Honduras’s police force are sitting on more than 13,000 outstanding arrest warrants issued over the last six years, highlighting the…

MEXICO / 10 MAR 2017

Mexico's top military official says that soldiers will remain in the streets to fight organized crime, a seeming departure from…

EL SALVADOR / 12 APR 2012

El Salvador is rolling out a new security strategy for lowering gang violence, but the new approach places little emphasis…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…