TITLE:MEXICO ONE OF THE SUCCESS STORIES IN WAR AGAINST DRUGS (05/05/93)
TEXT:*93050519.LEF MEXOCP PMW PF SICCESS STPROES OM WAR VS DRUGS
MEXICO ONE OF THE SUCCESS STORIES IN WAR AGAINST DRUGS
(Recent Mexican Counter-Narcotics Actions) (510)
By Greg Flakus
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- The war against illegal narcotics has scored some
significant victories in Mexico in recent weeks, with the seizure of
several large shipments of cocaine and the killing by police of top drug
lord Emilio Quintero Payan in the Mexico City suburb of Ciudad Satelite
just last week.
Law enforcement analysts and drug experts agree that Mexico has become one
of the brightest success stories in the hemisphere-wide fight against drug
smuggling. Mexican police have hounded drug kingpins and have worked to
root out official corruption. A rapid response force established near the
U.S. border has seized 72 tons of cocaine since 1989, helped to some extent
by intelligence information provided by the United States.
But most of what Mexico has accomplished has been the result of Mexican
money and effort. The United States has posted drug enforcement
administration agents in Mexico and has donated 15 million dollars to help
maintain some aircraft used for interdiction purposes near the border, but
Mexico has not ccepted direct U.S. aid.
Since Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari took office in 1988, he
has increased the budget for anti-narcotics activities seven-fold. U.S.
drug enforcement agents praise the level of cooperation provided by Mexican
authorities to stop traffickers on both sides of the border.
Mexico has also paid a steep price for its war on drugs. Hundreds of
policemen and soldiers have been killed by drug smugglers in mexico over
1he past 20 years.
Analysts also credit the no-nonsense approach taken by Mexican Attorney
General Jorge Carpizo, who assumed office in January. Carpizo was
previously head of the National Commission on Human Rights and a frequent
critic of both Mexican police tactics and corruption. He has removed some
police commanders and has prosecuted others in an effort to clean up the
forces deployed against the drug smugglers.
Sometimes, the Attorney General has had to set his sights high. In
February, Mr. Carpizo indicted the former chief of Mexican anti-narcotics
operations, Guillermo Gonzalez-Calderoni, who was accused of corruption.
Gonzalez-Calderoni is still at large and believed to be living somewhere in
the southwestern U.S. state of Texas. Mexican authorities seized millions
of dollars in property belonging to the fugitive in northern Mexico. The
accusations against Mr. Gonzalez-Calderoni have saddened law enforcement
officials in both Mexico and the United States who credit him with having
established the northern region's rapid response system and with having
played a key role in the capture of narcotics gang leader Miguel Angel
Felix Gallardo and other important figures.
The corruption fed by the drug trade has taken a toll in Mexico as it has in
other parts of the hemisphere, including the United States, but U.S. law
enforcement officials say Mexico is on the right path to control both the
corruption and the drug trafficking.
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