Mexico City has announced a new dedicated police division dedicated to combating micro-trafficking, as the capital attempts to counter a steep rise in local drug dealing.
The group of 150 agents went into operation on April 15, as La Jornada reported, including some 50 new graduates from the police academy.
The officers will aim to dismantle drug dealing operations, said the head of the capital's police, Jesus Rodriguez Almeida. They will follow up emergency calls reporting drug dealing, gather intelligence and use video surveillance reported Provincia. The force will ultimately be increased to at least 200 officers.
Another group of 50 graduates would focus on combating gangs who steal cars, rob houses, and extort, said Rodriguez.
InSight Crime Analysis
Microtrafficking is a problem which has grown sharply in Mexico in recent years, as the country has become an increasingly significant drug market. Local drug dealing is estimated to have increased by 450 percent in the capital between 2002 and 2011.
Though the business is small-scale, it is highly profitable, and criminal groups are willing to fight for a share of the gains. Then-Attorney General Marisela Morales said in July 2012 that micro-trafficking was a major cause of violence across the country, as gangs fought for control of points where drugs are sold.
Domestic drug markets are growing across Latin America, spurred by a number of factors including the growth of the middle class, and the fact that law enforcement successes have made it harder to export narcotics.
The micro-trafficking unit is part of a national effort to combat the problem in Mexico, which includes the opening of a series of strategic centers across the country which will coordinate federal and state law enforcement operations against the domestic drug trade.
See El Economista's map of the percentage of drug dealing reports from different areas of Mexico City, right.