WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

12 May 2021 | News

Police reform and security strategies in Mexico

WOLA white paper submitted to the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission.

More than a decade after former Mexican president Felipe Calderón launched the war on drugs, Mexico is still a primary source and transit country for illicit drugs. As a result, Mexican citizens continue to grapple with record levels of violence and insecurity.

To address drug trafficking and contain organized criminal violence, perpetrators must be identified, prosecuted, punished, and prevented from carrying out their illegal activities from behind bars. Effective police, prosecutors, and judiciaries, free from corruption, are essential in achieving that end. The Mexican government has undertaken important efforts to strengthen the country’s justice, prosecutorial, and law enforcement sectors一efforts that the United States has supported to varying degrees. But stronger institutions aren’t built overnight, and the country is far from having the solid foundation it needs.

Likewise, Mexico’s reform efforts should be viewed as part of a longer-term strategy that aims to mitigate, rather than eliminate, drug trafficking in the country, as even strong and effective institutions will not be able to stop the drug trade. In 2020, WOLA was commissioned by the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission一a bipartisan, independent commission created by the U.S. Congress in 2017 to evaluate U.S. drug policies and programs in the region and provide recommendations for improvement一to submit a white paper on police reform in Mexico and Central America and U.S. support for these efforts. 

The findings and recommendations in the paper are WOLA’s and not the Commission’s. The following is an edited version of the Mexico section of this paper. It addresses police reform as a priority element not only for drug control strategies, but for creating rights-respecting police forces that are able to prevent and combat crime and violence with the trust of the citizenry.

Read the paper in its entirety here.