By KYLIE MADRY
From Federales to Mall Cops
More than 8,000 members of the Federal Forces Division and the Gendarmerie Division of the now-dissolved Mexican Federal Police will be reduced to doormen and parking lot attendants, according to an Oct. 17 report in La Crónica newspaper.
The divisions built a reputation as specialized military-police forces within the Federal Police, with high-power weapons training, anti-drug trafficking operations and an “immediate reaction” team.
Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), dissolved the Federal Police last October and most of the units, including the Federal Forces Division and the Gendarmerie Division, were absorbed into the newly created National Guard.
Since their integration into the National Guard, the two divisions have been assigned to what AMLO calls “important operations,” such as guarding covid-19 hospitals and Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) gas pipelines.
The move to reassign specialized military police units to stand guard at public offices and parking lots was signed off by Secretary of Defense General Luis Cresencio Sandoval, and personally approved by AMLO on Oct. 6.
According to an official order, the transfer’s purpose is to “optimize the capacities of the National Guard.” However, it may have to do more with some members’ claims that the National Guard “discriminates” against former federal police, who aren’t respected by their new peers.
Last month, 9,000 former federal police refused to be moved to the National Guard, quitting the force instead.
El Padrino Falls: DEA Doing Mexico’s Job
In what was apparently a shock to Mexico’s top officials, former Secretary of Defense Salvador Cienfuegos was detained at the Los Angeles airport on Thursday, Oct. 15, by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.
According to an indictment unsealed on Friday, Oct. 16, Cienfuegos was known as “El Padrino,” or “The Godfather,” by members of the H-2 cartel.
U.S. officials have said that Cienfuegos, as Mexico’s head of defense, diverted military operations away from the cartel and toward its rivals in exchange for massive payouts.
The investigation and arrest was carried out without the help of Mexican officials.
AMLO said in an interview on Saturday, Oct. 17, that Mexico “didn’t investigate Cienfuegos because we didn’t have any evidence against him.”
“The DEA had more information precisely because its members worked together,” the president said. “We didn’t have any evidence, and we didn’t cover anything up.”
The claims by the president – and an investigation carried out without his help – point to strained relations between Mexican and U.S. law enforcement.
Cienfuegos’ arrest is the latest in a string of high-ranking Mexican officials captured in the United States, the last being the former head of the Federal Investigation Agency Genaro García Luna 10 months ago.
Frena Feels Threatened (By its Flying Tents, Perhaps?)
Mexico’s conservative protest group National Anti-AMLO Front (Frena) is at it again, this time with leader Gilberto Lozano threatening to install electric fences and form a “self-defense group” to protect the Frena sit-in in the Zócalo, Mexico City’s main square.
In a video released on Friday, Oct. 16, Lozano claimed that AMLO has “ordered the closure and ban of webcams” in the Zócalo.
As of Sunday, Oct. 18, a number of live webcams around the Zócalo were accessible through Webcams de México.
Frena has grown in notoriety in recent months for its flashy antics, including the takeover of the Zócalo, which Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum called a “performance” two weeks ago.
Several times throughout the sit-in, unoccupied Frena tents have been blown away by the wind – suggesting that the group is attempting to seem bigger than it really is, although Lozano pointed out that no one stays in a tent 24 hours a day.
Lozano’s words were quickly denounced by various groups, including El Heraldo columnist Hernán Gómez Bruera, who tweeted on Friday, Oct. 16, “Yesterday Frena attacked a fellow journalist from El Universal, now [Lozano] shows up in this video where he calls for the creation of a ‘self-defense group’ and the installation of electric fences in the Zócalo. This is an attempted coup d’état and an open defense of violence.”
More Than Cancer Meds Go Missing
The alleged robbery of over 38,000 units of life-saving pediatric cancer medications in Mexico City made national headlines earlier this month.
But, according to Hugo López-Gatell, Mexico’s undersecretary of public health and the nation’s de facto coronavirus czar, that’s not all that’s gone missing in October.
López-Gatell announced Friday, Oct. 16, that in just the past few weeks, thousands of units of medicines, vaccines and hospital equipment have been stolen in Mexico City and the State of Mexico (Edoméx).
Over the last 18 months, families of children with cancer have been loudly protesting a dire shortage of crucial pediatric oncology medications, which has led to numerous deaths nationwide.
In an update to the case of the missing pediatric cancer meds, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office announced on Friday, Oct. 16, that 8,144 boxes of the 38,000 missing were found dumped in Azcapotzalco.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum announced the following day that two suspects had been arrested for the robbery.
A week after the cancer medicine was allegedly stolen, thieves took a trailer carrying dialysis machines at gunpoint, leaving the drivers on the side of the highway in Mexico City’s Colonia Álvaro Obregón.
A similar incident occurred the day before that, on Monday, Oct. 12, as a truck carrying 10,100 doses of flu vaccines was robbed in the Edoméx.
Mexico’s Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) advised citizens that vaccines should not “be obtained in private pharmacies, private hospitals or through the internet or social media.”
…Oct. 19, 2020