A backlog of more than 300,000 investigations, anarchy, a disproportionate number of high-ranking officials and unjustified extravagant spending are among a range of irregularities detected in the old federal Attorney General’s Office by the chief of the new department that replaced it.
Earlier this year, a new Attorney General’s Office called the Fiscalía General de la Republica (FGR) was created to succeed the previous office known as the Procuraduría General de la Republica (PGR).
The latter was heavily criticized during the six-year term of former president Enrique Peña Nieto, especially for its alleged mishandling of the 2014 Iguala case in which 43 young teaching students disappeared and were presumably killed in the state of Guerrero.
Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero, a veteran lawman and ally of President López Obrador who was elected as the FGR chief in January, yesterday offered details about the chaos he discovered in the now-defunct PGR.
He said the accumulation of more than 300,000 incomplete investigations was unjustifiable, adding that no more than 5% of cases examined by the PGR were completed and resulted in sentences.
Gertz also said there was no scheme in place to assess the number of investigations assigned to individual PGR officials, a shortcoming that resulted in a “disproportionate and illogical” allocation of cases.
One person could have responsibility for 1,000 cases while other similarly-ranked officials weren’t assigned a single file, he explained.
As there was no system in place to verify compliance with court orders and directives from other government departments, more than 21,000 arrest warrants went unexecuted and more than 28,000 ministerial commands were ignored, the attorney general said.
Gertz added that he found a backlog of more than 3,000 unissued forensic reports and charged that the PGR acted to protect the Peña Nieto-led government, stating that it became “an executioner of its political enemies while it permanently provided cover for the accomplices of power.”
He also said that the distribution of personnel within the PGR was flawed.
“There were areas of attention for citizens with a serious shortage of support personnel while on the other hand there were non-priority areas with an excess of wasted personnel,” Gertz said.
In addition, the attorney general found “a disproportionate number of high-ranking officials . . . with high salaries” whose roles within the PGR were not clearly defined.
Gertz said that money had been squandered on the purchase of planes at “obviously inflated prices” whose necessity and cost-benefit were not justified, and that the PGR rented substandard buildings at exorbitant prices while some of the department’s properties were unoccupied.
Gertz added that there was a lack of control over the use of the PGR’s fleet of 4,000 vehicles including a large number of armored cars, and that the department’s spending on security was “irrational and suspicious.”