The Mexico City Attorney General’s Office (FGJ) is set to begin a major anti-corruption drive aimed at cleaning up the capital’s investigative police force and dismissing unscrupulous officials.
In an interview with the newspaper Milenio, Attorney General Ernestina Godoy described the imminent anti-corruption program as the most ambitious in the history of Mexico City.
She said that the objective is to create a new generation of “incorruptible” police who are immune to bribery and to identify, dismiss and prosecute FGJ officials who are corrupt or in cahoots with organized crime.
Godoy, who some people have dubbed the “Iron Lady” for her resolute approach to her job, said that a new, all-powerful Internal Affairs Unit will be established within the FGJ that will be tasked with identifying corrupt and/or irregular conduct of employees.
“With the unit we’re really going to investigate everything internal that has to do with corruption, omissions or illegal actions,” she said.
For example, she added, “we’ve detected situations in which investigation files are opened but no other activities, no other work, is carried out.”
“Or for reasons that all of us can intuit, someone who shouldn’t be set free, is set free.”
Godoy asserted that corrupt and improper practices will no longer be allowed within the Attorney General’s Office, adding that the anti-corruption drive will extend to district FGJ offices in each of Mexico City’s 16 boroughs.
She said that cases have been detected in which FGJ personnel have left victims of crime waiting for hours to file complaints and even talked them out of lodging them.
“Two, three, four hours [go by] and they don’t attend to them. So people decide to leave,” Godoy said, adding that women who have been victims of domestic abuse have been told that there is no point in them filing a complaint because they will later forgive their partners and withdraw it.
Asked about plans for Mexico City’s investigative police, the attorney general declared that the FGJ is “transforming” the force, adding that it will have 1,000 new officers by the end of the year.
New recruits must have university degrees and undergo 1,000 hours of training before they are deployed, Godoy said.
The training includes education about the new criminal justice system, investigative strategies and even ethics, she explained.
“They are taught what it means to be a public servant. It’s not about the official being above the citizen. We are here to serve citizens, to investigate, to punish – we don’t punish [criminals] ourselves but rather provide all the evidence judges need so that they can sentence them and so that there is no impunity. Instilling this in a human being who is going to be a police officer, that is ethics,” Godoy said.
Questioned about whether it is really possible to create an incorruptible investigative police force, the attorney general responded that she believed it was.
Godoy said that an external evaluation of Mexico City investigative officers found that they feel “very proud” of the work they do and have a strong personal identity. “That’s why I believe there are possibilities” to create an honest police force, she said.
Asked about organized crime in the capital and the FGJ’s strategy to defeat it, Godoy highlighted that there is “excellent coordination” between her office and the cabinet of Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.
“We’re autonomous but we coordinate [with other government departments] because that’s the way it has to be in order for things to really work. The coordination with the Security Ministry has been very good and yielded very good results. This has allowed us to carry out intelligence work together,” she said, adding that the FGJ also works closely with federal agencies including the National Intelligence Center and the military.
Godoy said that many leaders of organized crime groups that operate in Mexico City have been arrested and imprisoned since she became attorney general in late 2018, adding that some of the groups have been weakened and others have disappeared altogether.
Asked about progress in the case of Mexico City Security Minister Omar García Harfuch, who was wounded in an attack in June allegedly perpetrated by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, the attorney general said:
“All the people we arrested are in prison and we’re subjecting them to a complementary investigation. We’re coordinating with the federal Attorney General’s Office on the weapons issue, … which is a federal matter. We’re collaborating to find out where they came from. When the investigation closes, we’ll need to provide all the evidence and we’re working on that.”
Source: Milenio (sp)