By MARK LORENZANA
Mexico’s Secretariat of the Navy (Semar) will take full control of immigration and customs tasks at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) “in an effort to combat organized crime,” the director of the AICM, Carlos Velázquez Tiscareño, announced on the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 4.
In a press conference, Velázquez Tiscareño said that the Immigration Office at the AICM faces a “critical problem,” although he did not directly point to the National Migration Institute (INM), or clarify the role that INM will have moving forward, in light of Semar’s takeover of immigration — and customs — tasks at the airport.
“Mainly, there is a critical, permanent problem in the Immigration area, in which soon the only institution that will operate will be the Secretary of the Navy, and also in Customs,” Velázquez Tiscareño said. “Fortunately, on Sept. 1, the Customs Office was inaugurated at the Felipe Ángeles International Airport, with which we will share cargo and, surely, passengers as well.”
The director of the AICM said that, since Feb. 2022, 1,500 elements of the Navy were commissioned to strengthen security, since organized crime operated with “complacency” in the air terminal.
Semar announced the creation of the Coordinator of the Airport Security Strategy and the Naval Unit for Airport Protection of the AICM in February of this year, and thereafter more than 1,500 naval personnel were deployed to the AICM to carry out “surveillance and safety tasks” in the airport.
Velázquez highlighted the creation of a single command in the AICM to strengthen decision-making, coordination and management capacity, which falls to the General Directorate, and subordinates Customs to the INM, Navy and Airport Command.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) had earlier declared that his decision of deploying sailors to the AICM has significantly reduced baggage theft.
Velázquez Tiscareño likewise announced that, since July, retired and active Navy personnel have also taken over the administration of the AICM — which includes administrative, financial and commercial functions — in a bid by the current administration to “shake up” the system and improve service.
On July 4 of this year, Carlos Morán Moguel stepped down as director of the AICM, and was replaced by Velázquez Tiscareño, a Navy rear admiral.
Political analysts and law experts, however, have pointed out that the Navy’s takeover of the AICM’s immigration zone is contrary to what is established by Mexican law.
Mexico’s Migration Law exclusively empowers the INM to control migration filters, and establishes that the INM should solely determine the approved entry of foreign persons into Mexico, as well as the monitoring of the country’s borders and entry points by land, sea or air.