States need super cop to fight cartels, governor says

He says single commander is succeeding in Baja California

TIJUANA – Organized crime does not respect political and geographical boundaries. That's why a single law enforcement commander is needed within each state to confront such criminals, said Baja California's governor.

The single command is succeeding in Baja California, said Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna, who urged other states to adopt that model to battle crime.

He promoted this concept during the Conference of State Attorneys General of Mexico's Northeast Zone, which covers Sinaloa, Sonora, Chihuahua and Baja California, held in Tijuana on Friday.

Osuna said he has personally met with his counterparts in Baja California Sur, Sonora and Sinaloa to advance this plan.

Three years ago, the commander of Mexico's Second Military Region, Gen. Alfonso Duarte, launched the concept of a single police command in Baja California. Duarte coordinates the daily efforts of all state and municipal law enforcement agencies, the Attorney General's Office and the Lieutenant Governor's Office in the battle against drug traffickers.

Those efforts occurred alongside initiatives to weed out corrupt officers; better train, equip and compensate officers; and carry out more hard-hitting operations.

But the violence began to spike just as authorities were beginning these efforts.

In Tijuana between 2008 to 2010, police logged 2,527 murders, 390 cases of people disappeared and more than 100 kidnappings. What's more, as fear swept the streets, an undetermined number of residents fled the city altogether.

Little by little, building on major arrests and huge seizures of drugs and weapons, sections of the city began to feel more secure.

Killings that appear to have been committed by organized criminals continue, and hung and decapitated bodies continue to appear, but these events are no longer a constant.

According to Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante, the crime rate has dropped 16 percent in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year.

The governor said that under a single command, the leaders of all law enforcement agencies developed a system to fight crime that "didn't leave such an important problem in inexperienced hands."

"This was unprecedented in Mexico," the governor said.

Each state is currently ruled by state and municipal governments, the attorney general, and the governor. He said that the political will of all actors is needed to create a single command to confront crime.

"Organized crime does not respect political boundaries; we have to act in concert," Osuna continued. "Many of the things that happen here are planned in another state."

That's why, the governor continued, he proposed that Gen. Duarte work with the military chiefs of the zones that include Chihuahua and Sinaloa states to propose they, too, adopt the single-command model.

The purpose of the conference was to improve the judicial processes and to make the work of the attorney general's office more uniform in each state, making coordination among them easier.

In round table discussions, the participants tackled themes such as joint operations and the treatment and transfer of prisoners.

The participants included the deputy director of SIEDO, the federal agency that fights organized crime, Patricia Bugarín; Attorneys General Rommel Moreno (Baja California), Carlos Manuel Salaz (Chihuahua),

Abel Murrieta (Sonora) and Jesús Robles (Sinaloa).

Also on hand were representatives of the Mexican army and navy as well as the chief justice of the state court, María Esther Ibarra.

The governor urged those in attendance to support the single command.

"Working together we can design strategies that allow us to fight crime."

Omar.millan@sandiegored.com

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