Federal Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo has offered a guarantee that organized crime will eventually be defeated in Guanajuato, Mexico’s most violent state in 2019.
Speaking on Sunday at a ceremony to open National Guard barracks in the municipality of Pénjamo, Durazo acknowledged the high levels of violence in Guanajuato – there were more than 3,500 homicide victims last year – but asserted that authorities are “gradually” improving the situation.
“Unfortunately, the issue of insecurity won’t be solved from one day to the next. I don’t want to be pessimistic but the problem … grew over many years – decades – and dismantling all this is not easy,” he said.
According to a 2019 study by consultancy firm Lantia Consultores, 11 criminal groups operate in Guanajuato including the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, which are engaged in a bloody turf war in the state over the control of fuel theft, kidnapping and extortion.
Durazo described the dispute between the two criminal groups as “ferocious” but pledged that federal security forces would put an end to their operations.
There is a “historic presence” of federal forces in the state, including the National Guard, the navy and the army, he said.
“We’re going to solve the [insecurity] problem; that’s the important thing,” Durazo said. “Little by little, the number of [criminal gangs] is being reduced.”
Taking center stage at the inauguration ceremony among several military and government officials was President López Obrador, who said that 18 facilities for the National Guard have either been completed or are under construction in Guanajuato.
The government’s aim is for the new security force to “lack nothing” to combat crime, he said.
The president also said that his administration will put an end to the corruption in the government and judicial system that has allowed criminals to buy their freedom.
“A message to those who devote themselves to criminal activities: listen up … crime will not be allowed to act with impunity. It’s not like it was before,” López Obrador said, asserting that on his watch, criminals won’t be able to buy off prosecutors, government officials and judges to avoid or get out of prison.
“We’re cleansing the government of corruption. It will no longer be the powerful don dinero [Mr. Money] who makes decisions about public life in Mexico,” he added, citing a Spanish turn of phrase to affirm that money will no longer play a part in interactions with the different branches of government.
“He who thinks his god is money, that he can solve everything with money, will be mistaken. It’s no longer influence or money that … will make decisions about public life in our country,” López Obrador declared.
Many Mexican judges have been accused or suspected of taking cartel money in exchange for granting freedom to suspects, while members of municipal, state and federal governments have been convicted of ties to organized crime or come under suspicion of being in cahoots with criminal groups.
Former president Felipe Calderón’s security chief Genaro García Luna was arrested in the United States in December on charges that he accepted multi-million-dollar bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel. He pleaded not guilty in early January and a lawyer for García said January 21 that his client is “very much looking forward” to fighting the charges against him at trial.