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Mexico’s president lays out anti-crime plan

Pena Nieto
Pena Nieto
Associated Press

MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s president announced a nationwide anti-crime plan Thursday that would allow Congress to dissolve local governments infiltrated by drug gangs and give state authorities control over often-corrupt municipal police.

The plan announced by President Enrique Pena Nieto came two months after 43 teachers college students disappeared in the Guerrero city of Iguala, allegedly killed and incinerated by a drug gang working with local police. Huge marches have been held to protest their disappearance.

Pena Nieto suggested his plan was influenced by the Iguala tragedy, noting its “cruelty and barbarity have shocked Mexico.”

“Mexico cannot go on like this,” he said. “After Iguala, Mexico must change.”

As if to underscore the problem, authorities said Thursday that they had found the decapitated, partly burned bodies of 11 men dumped on the side of a road near another Guerrero city.

The president’s plan would also relax the complex divisions between which offenses are dealt with at federal, state and local levels. At present, some local police refuse to act to prevent federal crimes like drug trafficking. It would also seek to establish a national identity number or document, though it was unclear what form that would take.

The plan would focus first on four of Mexico’s most troubled states: Guerrero, Michoacan, Jalisco and Tamaulipas. More federal police and other security forces would be sent to the “hot land” region overlapping the first two states, where the government has already sent significant contingents of federal police and soldiers.

“My response to the police operation in the ‘hot lands’ is: ‘What? Another one?’ ” said Mexico City-based security analyst Alejandro Hope, alluding to a string of previous anti-crime initiatives in the area.

At a briefing for reporters later in the day, presidential chief of staff Aurelio Nuno said within a year and a half the municipal police forces in those four states would be gone, replaced with state police under a clear command structure.

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