President Enrique Pena Nieto laid out a security strategy Monday that creates a new national force, or gendarmerie, to combat organized crime and restore law to the most distant corners of Mexico.
The paramilitary force will be set up with 10,000 members but may grow to 40,000 in coming years, following models like those of Spain’s Civil Guard or the Italian Carabinieri.
While the new corps takes shape, Pena Nieto said dozens of disparate state police forces would fall under a unified command led by Mexico’s interior secretary, centralizing anti-crime efforts that have lacked coordination in the recent past.
The announcements underscored how Pena Nieto, in his third week of a six-year presidential term, seeks to mark distance from his predecessor, whose all-out war on crime gangs resulted in a frenzy of killing and soaring homicide rates.
“There is a grand national consensus. We all want a Mexico at peace, a more just, fair and safer Mexico,” Pena Nieto told the National Council on Public Security.
As Mexico’s 31 state governors and the powerful mayor of Mexico City looked on, Pena Nieto’s top security aides offered a blistering assessment of the security situation and the inability of prosecutors to punish criminals.
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