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Federal Preventive Police
Policia Federal Preventiva (PFP)

There were two types of police forces at the state and federal level in Mexico - Judicial and Preventive police. The Preventive police amount to more than 87% (about 330,000 agents) of the total Mexican police. It is mostly active in states, cities, and villages, its primary mandate being to maintain law and order. Unlike its judicial counterpart, the Preventive police were not entitled to investigate criminal offences but can assist the Public prosecutor if he/she so requests.

The Federal Preventive Police (Policia Federal Preventiva - PFP) was formed in 1998 as a decentralized law enforcement body of the Secretariat of Internal Affairs. It absorbed existing police bodies, such as the Federal Highway Police, the Fiscal Police and the Migration Police, supplemented with military and intelligence personnel. It included the recruitment and training of new agents. Almost 6,000 of the new agents came from the military (3rd Brigade of Military Police and Marines). It also included the counterintelligence unit of the Center for Investigation and Intelligence (CISEN). The PFP manpower was over 10,000 personnel and belonged to the Secretariat of Public Safety. In 2007 Mexico had 30,700 paramilitary forces, of which 12,700 were PFP and 18,000, Rural Defense Militia.

The mission of the PFP was quite broad. It had to prevent crimes and violations to federal legislation, to perform law enforcement actions, to watch borders, rivers, ports of entry, federal highways, railroads, airports, and transport routs in general. National parks, hydraulic infrastructure, dams, and lakes were also under the jurisdiction of the PFP in terms of law enforcement. This agency also received the instruction to conduct criminal investigations in support, and by request of the federal, state and municipal authorities. And as stated by the Federal Preventive Police Law, one of its main functions was to "preserve the integrity and the rights of the citizens, as well as their liberties and the public peace and order in the terms established by law." Also, the PFP performs preventive functions against terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime. Cyber security investigations were performed by the PFP as well.

At the beginning, the PFP was a matter of political controversy. Opposition parties were critical about the potential of using this agency for political purposes. In 2000, the PFP was ordered to recover the facilities of the National Autonomous University of México, which had been occupied by protesting students for several months. The PFP was in the capital city of Oaxaca trying to contend with a generalized protest that brought the state into a social turmoil.

In many ways, the PFP is an innovative organization aimed at meeting at least three types of needs: an enhanced police force - better organized, trained and equipped than regular police forces in México; a police agency capable to combine preventive and investigative functions; a police force flexible enough to work with federal, state and municipal police agencies. According to prominent scholars, the PFP as a whole also represents a threat to the democratization process: it was a force closely linked to the military, and particularly to the military elite; it can be used to suppress legal dissidence or to go against legitimate political organizations. Against these threats, the close supervision of Congress and more effective accountability can preserve the strength of the PFP.

In December 2006, the new administration of President Felipe Calderón announced the re-structuring of the Secretariat of Public Security. With this, the PFP was to be transformed into the Federal Police Corps (Cuerpo Federal de Policía - CFP), which was to absorb "all federal law enforcement capabilities," including the powerful Federal Investigation Agency (Agencia Federal de Investigaciones - AFI) from the Office of the Attorney General, customs, immigration, and corrections. In 2001, the PGR restructured the Federal Judicial Police (Policia Judicial Federal), and renamed it the Federal Investigation Agency (Agencia Federal de Investigación, AFI). According to the Prosecutor General's AFI inaugural speech in June 2002, the former Policia Judicial Federale was inefficient due to its lack of structure and coordination. It was also known to be more reactive than proactive, undoubtedly affecting the quality of its investigations. Furthermore, the PGR itself has clearly recognised that the Policia Judiciale Federale was rife with police corruption, giving rise to constant human right violations and impunity, causing, in turn, a lack of trust by citizens in the police. Therefore, the authorities considered as crucial the restructuring as well as a name change, thus hoping to give the AFI a better image in public opinion. However, AFI's image, although better than its predecessor's, is not yet entirely satisfactory

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Page last modified: 28-07-2011 00:53:54 ZULU