WikiLeaks Shows Police Cleanup in Mexico is a Dirty Business

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A U.S. State Department cable, released by WikiLeaks, sheds light on the near-impossible crusade to clean up Mexico’s police force, compromised by powerful drug cartels. As the cable makes clear, despite an intense effort by Nuevo Leon state officials to root out corrupt cops, the results were decidedly mixed, with an estimated 50 percent of the police force still thought to be working for the cartels.

The cable, dated March 4 2009, describes police reform efforts in Nuevo Leon, which has in recent months become one of the most violent places in Mexico. The border state is currently being heavily contested by the Zetas and the New Federation, an alliance between elements of the Gulf, Sinaloa cartels. But at the time of its writing, things had not yet spun out of control, making what is essentially a post-mortem analysis even more interesting.

The cable details the “good,” the “bad,” and the “ugly” concerning efforts to clean up the Nuevo Leon police force. The “good” news mostly consists of improved technology and equipment for the police, including the creation of a high-tech criminal monitoring center in Monterrey, complete with 300 security cameras, as well as requisite lie detector tests. Other reforms included the creation of an entirely new municipal police force known as Metropol, meant to offer higher salaries and better training for recruits.

But as the cable points out, all the efforts towards reform have brought very few results. Of the 1,000 applicants trying to join the police force, only 200 of them passed the requisite “confidence” tests, the cable says.

Meanwhile, state officials quoted in the cable remain suspicious, even hostile, towards the police force, despite the supposed efforts at reform. Tellingly, the cable quotes the state’s former secretary of security, Aldo Fasci Zuazua, as stating that he does not believe the lie detectors tests are effective, and has seen “fear in the eyes” of those implementing the tests. Fasci is also said to exclude the municipal police from his weekly strategy meeting with his military and state police, believing them to be on the payroll of the cartels.

As the cable indicates, the struggle to improve Nuevo Leon’s police force has been long, frustrating, and perhaps fruitless. In May 2010, the mayor pulled 600 police officers from the force, intending to subject them to polygraph and drug tests. One hundred thirty six officers resigned on the spot, rather than go through with the tests. Earlier this year, the entire police force in the small town of General Teran, in Nuevo Leon, resigned after a series of attacks, presumably perpetrated by the Zetas. 

The WikiLeaks cable gives plenty of examples of police engaging in outright criminal behavior — participating in kidnappings and so on. But probably what is more disturbing is its depiction of police inaction, with officers refusing to conduct investigations into the deaths of other policemen, for fear of reprimand from the cartels. As the cable notes, “In Nuevo Leon the drug cartels do not fear the state and municipal police; instead, clean police officers are afraid of the cartels.”

Such statements support the idea that Nuevo Leon has already slipped away from the state’s control, with the rule of law now being determined by the lawbreakers. 

Full cable:

2009-03-04 21:09:00
Consulate Monterrey
2009-03-04 21:56:00
Consulate Monterrey

DE RUEHMC #0102/01 0691819
P 042156Z MAR 09 ZDS


C O R R E C T E D C O P Y – Classification 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/4/2019 

MONTERREY 00000102 001.4 OF 005 

CLASSIFIED BY: Bruce Williamson, Consul General, Monterrey, 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
¶1. (C) Summary. The state of Nuevo Leon has instituted many 
changes to clean up its state and municipal police forces, 
including annual lie detector tests, the creation of an 
integrated municipal police force called Metropol, and the 
construction of a high technology C-4 CCTV monitoring center. 
The state, and one municipal, police force are also utilizing 
the Plataforma Mexico system to share information, and these 
entities are eager to obtain assistance from the Merida 
Initiative. Despite these actions, results in terms of reducing 
common crime are mixed. Civil society and security experts have 
not seen any real improvement in the quality and reliability of 
state and municipal police, and the Nuevo Leon Secretary of 
Public Security has no confidence in the municipal police 
forces. Meanwhile, neither the state nor the local police forces 
dare to interfere with the drug cartels. End Summary. 

State and Local Police Infiltrated by Drug Cartels 

¶2. (C) The state of Nuevo Leon?s lucrative drug trafficking 
routes are controlled by the Gulf/Zeta cartel, except for the 
wealthy suburb of San Pedro (where the Consulate families 
reside) which is under the Beltran Leyva branch of the Sinaloa 
Cartel. There is no doubt that the Nuevo Leon state and local 
police have been substantially compromised by the Gulf/ZETAS. 
The GOM?s National Center for Evaluation and Control of 
Confidence tested police nationwide with medical, psychological, 
toxicology, and polygraph examinations and measured their 
wealth. The Center found that it could not provide a positive 
recommendation for 60.4 of Nuevo Leon?s federal, state and 
municipal police, right in line with the national average of 
61.4%. Similarly, Nuevo Leon Secretary for Public Security Aldo 
Fasci estimated that 50% of the state and city police forces 
were infiltrated by drug cartels. 

¶3. (S/NF) In the past, post law enforcement representatives were 
able to provide informational assistance to the state police on 
several successful state police operations against organized 
crime. However, this stopped with the 2006 assassination of 
Marcelo Garza y Garza, the head of the state investigative unit. 
Post officials see Garza?s replacement as a figure who has been 
compromised by the Gulf/Zeta cartel. Note. Post law enforcement 
officials have a good working relationship with state police on 
non-drug matters, such as pursuing fugitives or protecting the 
Consulate. End Note. Moreover, although there have been over 200 
executions in the last three years, including over 40 police and 
soldiers, none of these cases has been solved. One knowledgeable 
contact states that Nuevo Leon Secretary Fasci is isolated 
within his own office, since his lieutenants in reality report 
to his corrupted underlings. 

¶4. (SBU) According to statistics from the state attorney 
general?s office, crime rates were generally stable in 2008, 
although economic crimes are now trending upward. The total 
number of premeditated homicides declined 7% from 2007 to 2008, 
partially reflecting the relative peace between the drug 
cartels. The drug cartels actively contested Nuevo Leon until 
mid-year 2007, so while there were 107 executions in 2007 that 
number fell to less than 45 in 2008. The record on other crimes 
is mixed with simple robberies (-8%) and robberies of businesses 
(-0.5%) both declining, and home burglaries (+2%), robberies of 
people (+16%) and car thefts (+20%) all increasing. Following an 
upward trend the last half of 2008, in January 2009 there have 
been sharp increases in economic crimes such as simple robbery 
(+56%), home burglaries (+102%), robberies of businesses (+65%), 
robberies of people (+138%), while car thefts continued to rise 
(+18%) and premeditated homicides were up 5%. The public 
statistics on kidnappings are not reliable, since few cases are 
reported and Mexican law does not classify most abductions as 
kidnappings as under U.S. law. Local businessmen think that 

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there have been substantial increases in extortion and 
kidnapping, at least some of them linked directly to cartel 

The Good: Plans and Actions to Reform Local Police Forces 

¶5. (SBU) Nuevo Leon Governor Jose Natividad Gonzalez Paras has 
repeatedly promised new programs to clean up the police forces, 
including annual polygraph tests, higher levels of education for 
police recruits, improved coordination with municipal police 
forces, and more federal resources. In addition, four 
metropolitan Monterrey PAN mayors proposed creation of Metropol, 
a new integrated municipal police force, including uniform 
requirements, salaries and equipment. The PAN mayors later 
agreed to include the PRI Mayors in their plans, and the PRI 
Governor Gonzalez Paras adopted the Metropol plan for the entire 
Monterrey Metropolitan area. The Metropol plan now includes 
creating a joint unit composed of different municipal police 
forces to respond to crime, as opposed to the normal 
preventative function of Mexican municipal police. 

¶6. (C) State and local police also use technology to increase 
police effectiveness. President Calderon inaugurated the C-4 
(Center for Communication, Command, and Control) built by the 
wealthy suburb of San Pedro in September 2008. The San Pedro C-4 
is impressive, and 300 cameras enable San Pedro police to 
monitor the entrances and exits into the city and analyze crime 
trends to deploy the police more effectively (e.g. moving police 
to areas and times when burglaries are likely to occur). San 
Pedro Secretary of Public Security Rogelio Lozano contends that 
the cameras are effective because they cannot be corrupted. 
Meanwhile, the C-4 operators must pass special confidence 
testsand are not permitted to bring cell phones into the 
facility,. Both Secretary Lozano and a member of the Citizens 
Security Advisory Council think that the C-4 discourages crime 
in San Pedro, since the criminals know that they are being 
watched. San Pedro statistics show that crime is stable or 
falling slightly since the C-4 came into operation. The state of 
Nuevo Leon is currently building a C-5 (so-called because it 
will coordinate the C-4s). However, the C-5 was originally 
scheduled to be completed by October 2007, but due to repeated 
delays, state officials now hope that it will open in summer 
¶2009. Apparently, Northrop-Grumann served as a prime contractor 
for this facility. 

¶7. (SBU) Nuevo Leon and San Pedro police both praise Plataforma 
Mexico, which shares information about crime throughout the 
country. The San Pedro C-4 is linked to Plataforma Mexico, so 
San Pedro police can instantly analyze cars license plates in 
minutes to determine if they were stolen, including in other 
states. Nuevo Leon Secretary Facsi also stated that Plataforma 
Mexico information has helped them solve crimes and avoid hiring 
police with criminal records elsewhere in Mexico. State and 
local police are also very eager for assistance through the 
Merida Initiative, but have not yet seen any funds. 

The Bad: Promising Reforms Bring at Best Mixed Results 

¶8. (C) Despite all his efforts, Nuevo Leon Secretary Facsi does 
not think that he has made progress cleaning up the Nuevo Leon 
state and municipal police forces. Fasci does not think that 
annual polygraphs are effective, since he has seen the ?fear in 
the eyes? of the polygraph examiners, who may ignore the actual 
results. He noted that he has seen a number of cases where 
compromised police have passed all of the required confidence 
tests. Facsi also faces a deficit of officers, since his state 
police only number 7,000, 2,000 below their authorized strength. 
Nuevo Leon screens police candidates, and only 200 of 1,000 
applicants passed the initial confidence tests to enter the 

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police academy. Fasci finds that he must keep moving his 
commanders around to maintain their effectiveness, before they 
fall prey to bribes and influences. He thinks that police 
commanders are only at maximum effectiveness for only three 
months, and he has moved some commanders around five times. 
Facsi does not have any confidence in the municipal police 
forces. The state police have weekly strategy meetings with the 
military, CISEN, and the federal police, and Fasci excludes 
local police because he doesn?t trust them. . (Note: ironically, 
local military commanders say the same about the state police, 
i.e., they exclude them from their planning sessions because 
they don?t trust them.) Facsi also complained that his forces 
need better arms to fight the cartels, but he did not want the 
municipal police to upgrade their weapons, noting that when the 
Gulf/Zeta cartel sponsored demonstrations against the military, 
the municipal police forces did nothing to stop them. 

¶9. (C) San Pedro Secretary of Security Lozano was far more 
optimistic, claiming that he has weeded out 300 of his 500 
officer police force through polygraphs, drug and psychological 
tests. Although Post law enforcement officials consider the San 
Pedro police force to be the most reliable and best equipped, 
they still think that it is compromised by organized crime and 
unwilling or unable to move against drug cartels. Similarly, a 
prominent member of the San Pedro Citizens Security Council, who 
met monthly with Lozano, did not think that the San Pedro police 
had improved substantially, although she did think that the San 
Pedro C-4 had been effective in reducing common crime. 

¶10. (C) Poloff has met with an organizer of the citizens? march 
for security, security consultants and academics, and none 
believe that there have been real improvements in the 
reliability of local police forces. For example, one security 
consultant reported that in the city of Guadalupe the commander 
took the new police recruits to a narco-warehouse to collect 
their share of the money. A contact with close ties to the 
police said that the police only use the confidence tests to 
harass the officers they don?t like, not to clean up the force. 
In addition, in June 2008, the day after Nuevo Leon Governor 
Gonzalez Paras urged citizens to file complaints against 
kidnapping, a jewelry owner and his son were kidnapped from 
inside the Guadalupe municipal police station and a state police 
station while filing complaints. The kidnappers encountered no 
resistance from the police. Indeed, there were 60 state police 
stationed nearby with weapons and body armor, but they reported 
to the newspaper that they were ordered not to intervene. None 
of the police involved were disciplined. In some cases the 
municipal police actively assist the cartels. For example, 
federal police and the Mexican military liberated a three year 
old victim of a kidnapping, and found that the kidnappers were 
seven police from the rural town of Salinas Victoria. They also 
found money, backpacks and other evidence at a safehouse 
indicating that these municipal police were helping organize the 
narco-funded demonstrations against the Mexican military. 
Similarly, Post law enforcement officials believe that Guadalupe 
municipal police actively assist the Gulf/Zeta cartel in 
kidnapping and holding victims. Similarly, in the suburban town 
of Juarez, the police basically serve as an auxiliary for the 
Gulf Cartel. 

¶11. (C) Metropol was originally designed by four PAN mayors who 
only included neighboring PRI towns grudgingly. Metropol was 
designed to provide uniform standards for the municipal police 
forces to improve their effectiveness, and Nuevo Leon Secretary 
Facsi said that the municipal police will have minimum pay of 
$666 per month. However, independent observers dismiss Metropol 
as a political stunt. For example, Javier Hernandez, a United 
Nations official posted to Nuevo Leon for a project to observe 
crime rates, said that Metropol systems have never been 

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evaluated to see if they were effective and that the whole 
effort is just political theater. San Pedro Secretary Lozano, 
one of the original architects of Metropol, now seems 
disenchanted, since the Metropol concept has been changed to 
include joint police forces, apparently under the control of the 

¶12. (C) In contrast, most civil society observers think that 
Plataforma Mexico and the C-4 are reasonably effective in 
controlling common crime. Nuevo Leon and San Pedro utilize 
Plataforma Mexico, which they say helps them track down 
criminals, but the rest of the municipal forces are not 
connected to Plataforma Mexico. Indeed, Plataforma Mexico is 
limited because it only includes data from federal crimes or 
state crimes where the state requested assistance from the 
federal government. The PGR recently conducted a search for Post 
on Plataforma Mexico, but warned that for state crimes, such as 
murder or kidnapping, Post would have to ask each state since 
nationwide data was still not available. Others are less sure of 
the value of Plataforma Mexico. One contact with close police 
ties, argued that the police do not actually use the Plataforma 
Mexico intelligence and that the C-4 does not analyze any 
information. Lozano argues, however, that Plataforma Mexico 
permits local police to stop cars with no license plates or 
stolen cars, which can be used by drug cartels to commit crimes. 
In our view, neither Plataforma Mexico nor the San Pedro C-4 
have hindered cartel operations. 

The Ugly: Impunity for the Drug Cartels 

¶13. (C) Comment. In Nuevo Leon the drug cartels do not fear the 
state and municipal police; instead, clean police officers are 
afraid of the cartels. Over the last three years over 40 police 
and soldiers have been executed by the drug cartels, and none of 
the cases has been solved. Indeed, a recent case illustrates how 
the drug cartel members are protected, but not the police. 
During the recent narco-demonstrations, a policeman arrested one 
of the leaders, a zeta cell leader. The ZETAS threatened him 
within 10 minutes, and two days later they executed him after he 
dropped off his children at their school. In contrast to the 
cartels, who tried to get their leader released, we understand 
that the police have decided not to investigate the murder of 
their fellow officer (see reftel B). 

¶14. (C) Comment continued. It should be noted that Mexican 
federal and state constitutions often tie the hands of the state 
and local police. While Nuevo Leon has many thousands of 
preventive police, they are prohibited by law from investigating 
crimes. Most street crimes in the U.S. are solved by patrol 
officers who follow up routine leads and are empowered to make 
warrantless arrests. Mexican street police are in large part 
deterred from exercising basic police investigative techniques 
either by law or though coercion. Some minor constitutional 
modernization would have to be considered to make police reform 
a reality. 

¶15. (C) Comment continued. Since 93% of Mexico?s police forces 
and are state and municipal police, honest and professional 
state and municipal police forces are critical to success in the 
battle against drug cartels. Several political leaders have 
recently approached Poloff to request USG help, arguing that 
unless trends change Nuevo Leon could become a state fully 
controlled by the drug cartels. Nuevo Leon Secretary Facsi and 
several civic leaders argue that the U.S. should help through 
the Merida Initiative, making Nuevo Leon a positive model. Local 
leaders note that technology alone will not solve the issue, as 
the state and municipal police will need to become professional 
(including higher salaries) to become assets in the battle 
against drug cartels. Starting state police officers only earn 

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$500 per month (commanders make $1,000 per month), so their 
salaries would need to be increased substantially before they 
could become a professional force. Unfortunately, truly 
reforming the police is a long-term process and in many ways 
Nuevo Leon leaders haven?t even taken the first necessary steps. 
End Comment. 

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