Mexico’s Defense Department (Sedena), which is made up of the army and air force, has detained nearly 8,000 people in anti-drug trafficking operations over the course of 2012, though low conviction rates mean many go free.
Between January and early September of this year Sedena detained nearly 8,000 people in anti-drug operations, reported El Universal. The numbers from 2012 are on track to match those of last year, when Sedena detained 12,465 people.
In operations against drug trafficking, Sedena seized over $7 million in Mexican and US currency.
In addition, the army has confiscated over 10,000 large arms, 5,000 small arms, and 1,500 grenades. They also seized over 10,000 vehicles, 18 planes, and 32 boats.
InSight Crime Analysis
The real challenge for the Mexican government is actually bringing those arrested to trial and obtaining a conviction. A report from Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office from earlier this month stated that only 31 percent of those detained by the office’s organized crime division between 2006 and 2011 were convicted. This is an improvement over previous reports that those arrested for drug trafficking had an estimated conviction rate of 15 percent.
A corollary issue is Mexico’s extensive use of pre-trial detention. Many people who are arrested are jailed without being charged or convicted, resulting in dangerously overcrowded, corrupt jails and making it easy for small-time offenders to become integrated into larger criminal networks within prisons.