INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Ssp to Replace Military As Primary Security Player

Published: Thu 10 Dec 2009 01:01 AM
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 003468
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/24/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR MX
SUBJECT: SSP TO REPLACE MILITARY AS PRIMARY SECURITY PLAYER
IN CIUDAD JUAREZ
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Gustavo Delgado.
Reason: 1.4 (b),(d).
1. (C) Summary. President Calderon will likely decide this
week to make the Public Security Secretariat (SSP) the
primary public security authority in Ciudad Juarez and return
the military (SEDENA) to a more traditional, supporting role.
Calderon's security team is proceeding under the assumption
he will greenlight the transition. The shift would indicate
GOM recognition that the military-led effort has not been
effective in curbing the escalating levels of violence. The
military has suffered from criticism of its handling of human
rights issues, and the Calderon administration recognizes the
need for strong, civilian law enforcement institutions
capable of sustained success against organized crime in
Mexico. Planning is still sketchy and command arrangements
uncertain. Senior Mexican law enforcement and security
officials continue to meet on operational arrangements. A
central player in driving the change has been National
Security Advisor Jorge Tello Peon, who gives great credit to
U.S. engagement for forcing GOM attention to operational
shortfalls. End Summary.
2. (C) National Security Advisor Tello and Director of the
Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN)
Guillermo Valdes hope to get President Calderon to approve
Tello's proposal, developed with Public Security Secretary
Garcia Luna, to give SSP lead responsibility for federal
public security forces in Ciudad Juarez. Calderon's security
team is operating under the assumption that the President
will concur, and his executive council will meet on December
10 to work out the operative aspects of implementing the
plan. SSP contacts indicate that the Federal Police will be
the principal player in security efforts within the city,
with SEDENA taking a supporting role on operations and
securing the outer perimeter and highway checkpoints. There
is no clarity at this point on how SSP, SEDENA, and other
security forces will share supported and supporting roles.
3. (C) The change in strategy will mean an increase in
Federal Police presence in Ciudad Juarez -- the GOM may send
north the crowd control units brought into Mexico City for
the takeover of Luz y Fuerza facilities, as well as large
numbers of recently minted investigators -- and will allow
for the military to assume a more supporting role in terms of
domestic counternarcotics operations. GOM contacts have told
us that the SSP could send perhaps as many as 1800 more
Federal Police. The deployment of additional police does not
currently presage a reduction of military presence in Juarez.
Instead, it may be possible that SEDENA could send as many
as 2000 more troops to Juarez to reinforce SSP efforts. SSP
contacts indicated that the military has achieved the "first
step" of creating checkpoints and security blocks to stop
openly armed organized crime convoys. In the next phase --
which is in line with Garcia Luna's action plan for Ciudad
Juarez detailed for Emboffs earlier this year -- SSP will
enter and target black market activities, such as red light
districts, which have served as safehavens for elements of
organized criminal groups. The final part of the strategy
will be a restoration of public and social services to regain
the confidence and credibility of the population. But
according to SSP contacts, detailed planning has yet to take
place.
4. (C) The shift is an indication of the GOM's recognition
that the military-led Operation Joint Chihuahua has not been
an effective tool in reducing the violence and organized
crime that plagues Ciudad Juarez. Narcotics-related violence
spiked after only a two-month hiatus following a dramatic
increase in troop deployments to the city earlier this year.
Moreover, the military lacks arrest authority and is
incapable of processing information and evidence for use in
judicial cases -- only 2 percent of those detained in Ciudad
Juarez have actually been charged with a crime. The military
has also taken a serious beating on human rights issues from
international and domestic human rights organizations who
argue that the military is ill-equipped for a domestic
policing role. In a report issued this week, Amnesty
International noted that complaints to the National
Commission on Human Rights against the military increased
from 367 in 2007 to over 2000 from January 2008-June 2009.
5. (C) Comment: Finalizing this strategy would be a positive
MEXICO 00003468 002 OF 002
step in the GOM's willingness to respond to public pressure
-- including protests in Ciudad Juarez earlier this week
against SEDENA's failure to staunch record levels of violence
-- and to focus on building strong, civilian law enforcement
institutions that are necessary for sustained success against
organized crime in Mexico. Tello gave credit to intense U.S.
engagement with the GOM, and our insistence that
professionalizing police and judicial institutions must be at
the core of a long-term citizen security solution. Likewise,
our continued emphasis that the military is a blunt-edged
instrument ill-fitted to combat organized criminal syndicates
also are influencing the GOM's decisionmaking. Nevertheless,
the transition to an SSP-led effort in Ciudad Juarez over the
next several weeks will be messy and difficult. The SSP does
not appear to have a comprehensive transition plan in place,
must redeploy SSP troops, and communications are poor.
Ciudad Juarez reports that local GOM actors have virtually no
idea what is happening, or what is driving the change.
Further, continuing to employ the military, even in a
supporting role, raises the same kinds of chain of command
problems that have plagued the effort from the beginning, and
no one is talking about what to do with the critical
municipal and state forces.
6. (C) SSP Secretary Garcia Luna previewed the proposal with
the Ambassador on December 7. Jorge Tello confirmed today
his central role in advancing the strategy. The approval is
moving forward more quickly than expected. Valdes said he
would report the results of the GOM meeting with the
President once it takes place. He requested that the
bilateral evaluation visit to Juarez scheduled for December
10-11 be postponed; a decision with which the Mission
concurs. Valdes and other authorities are certain to stay in
close contact with us as this develops, and Mission agencies
and Consulate General CJ will be in a position to assist and
advise as necessary. End comment.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
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