Can Mexico’s New Anti-Kidnapping Body Stem the Growth of the Crime?

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Mexico has created a new unit to combat rising kidnapping in the country, but the question remains of whether this body will tackle the crime more effectively than existing institutions have.

The National Anti-Kidnapping Organization was unveiled as part of the National Anti-Kidnapping Strategy during a presentation on January 28. Renato Sales Heredia, a prosecutor whose career has included time working for the Attorney General’s Office, was named anti-kidnapping coordinator, reported Animal Politico.

According to Sales Heredia, anti-kidnapping units will be created throughout the country as part of the strategy. These will oversee the use of resources to combat the crime, reported Animal Politico.

Monte Alejandro Rubido Garcia, executive secretary of the National Public Security System (SNSP), said the objective of the new body is “management and a concerted effort at the local and federal level.”

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Kidnapping

As part of the project, the Interior Ministry (SEGOB) will coordinate and monitor schemes to prevent, sanction, and dismantle kidnapping operations at the national level. A Special Committee of Monitoring and Evaluation will be integrated into SEGOB to monitor the work of the new organization. This committee will include representatives from the Defense Ministry (SEDENA), the Navy (SEMAR), the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), representatives from the National Conference of Governors (CONAGO) and civil society, reported Excelsior.

InSight Crime Analysis

Mexico has seen an uptick in kidnappings and extortion recently, despite promises by President Enrique Peña Nieto to tackle the crime. This increase is, in part, the result of the fragmentation of the country’s criminal organizations. As competition has risen among groups, drug proceeds have become increasingly stretched, leading criminal organizations to diversify their revenue streams with crimes like kidnapping and extortion.

Rampant impunity has also allowed the crime to perpetuate, as criminals operate with little concern they will be captured or prosecuted. With little chance of resolution and living in fear of retribution, victims are also reluctant to report the crime. A new report by El Universal estimates that 98 percent of kidnappings went unreported in 2012. According to the newspaper, while 1,407 kidnappings were reported that year, it is estimated 89,086 actually took place. (These would presumably include so-called “express kidnappings” in which victims are taken for short periods of time, usually after being ambushed in taxis, and empty their bank accounts at gun point.) 

In this context, one of the most pressing tasks of the new Anti-Kidnapping Organization will be to restore public confidence in the state to deal with the crime, something likely only possible through early and tangible results.

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