Trump: U.S. Probing Suspected Saudi Murder of Columnist

President Trump said Thursday the U.S. is being “very tough” as it looks into the case of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi writer missing and feared murdered in Istanbul. The president said, “we have investigators over there and we’re working with Turkey” and with Saudi Arabia.

President Trump said Thursday the U.S. is being “very tough” as it looks into a Saudi writer missing and feared murdered in Istanbul, adding “we have investigators over there and we’re working with Turkey” and with Saudi Arabia, the Associated Press reports. Trump spoke on “Fox & Friends” about Jamal Khashoggi, 59, who disappeared a week ago after entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey. The wealthy former government insider wrote columns for the Washington Post, including some critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He’d been living in the U.S. in self-imposed exile. Turkish officials fear Saudi Arabia killed and dismembered Khashoggi but offered no evidence. Saudi royal guards, intelligence officers, soldiers and an autopsy expert were part of a 15-member team from the kingdom that targeted Khashoggi, Turkish media reported.

“We want to find out what happened,” Trump said. “He went in, and it doesn’t look like he came out. It certainly doesn’t look like he’s around.” Asked about a Washington Post report that U.S. intelligence intercepts outlined a Saudi plan to detain Khashoggi, Trump said, “It would be a very sad thing and we will probably know in the very short future.” The Post said Prince Mohammed ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi from his home in Virginia to Saudi Arabia and then detain him. Saudi Arabia has called the allegation it abducted or harmed Khashoggi “baseless.” It has offered no evidence to support its claim the writer simply walked out of its consulate and vanished despite his fiancée waiting outside for him. Decades of close U.S.-Saudi relations, which have intensified under Trump, appeared in jeopardy by the suggestion of a carefully plotted murder of a government critic.

from https://thecrimereport.org

China Detains Interpol Chief in Bribery Probe

In a bizarre sequence of events that seems ripped from the pages of a John le Carré spy novel, the president of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, disappeared while on a trip to China. After Meng’s wife made a tearful appeal for his return, Beijing admitted that he was being held on bribery allegations. Interpol announced that Meng had resigned effective immediately.

China has accused Meng Hongwei, the missing president of Interpol, of bribery following a bizarre series of events that experts say tarnish Beijing’s image as a rising power and responsible member of international organizations, reports the Guardian.

In a terse statement Sunday, Chinese authorities admitted they were holding Meng. And on Monday, China’s ministry of public security said the Interpol chief, who was reported missing in France over the weekend, was being investigated for accepting bribes.

“The inspection and investigation of Meng Hongwei … is very timely, totally right, and very wise,” the ministry said in a statement on its website. Claiming Meng, who is Chinese, “only had himself to blame,” the ministry added, “There is no exception in front of the law. Anyone will be strictly investigated and punished.”

French police have been investigating Meng’s disappearance during a visit to China, which was first reported by his wife, Grace, on Friday. In an emotional appeal on Sunday, she told journalists she had not heard from her husband since Sept. 25 when he sent her a WhatsApp message that said, “Wait for my call.”

Four minutes later, the message was followed by an emoji of a knife, she said. Then late Sunday China’s new anti-corruption body, the national supervision commission, said he was being detained and investigated for suspected “violations of the law.” Also on Sunday, Interpol released a statement saying Meng had resigned “with immediate effect.”

Meng, president of the global law enforcement organization since 2016, usually lives in Lyon, where Interpol is based, with his family. A Tweet from the Interpol secretariat said the senior vice president of Interpol’s executive committee, Kim Jon Yang of South Korea, has been named acting president.

The case has raised speculation of a renewed political struggle within the Chinese Communist party. The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, has overseen a broad corruption crackdown that many see as a political purge.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Interpol President Missing in His Native China

Meng Hongwei, The president of Interpol and, a former senior Chinese security official, has been reported missing after he traveled to his native country at the end of September. Hongwei’s wife said Friday that she had not heard from her 64-year-old husband since he left Lyon, France, where Interpol is based.

The president of Interpol, a former senior Chinese security official, has been reported missing after he traveled to his native country at the end of September, the Associated Press reports. Meng Hongwei’s wife reported Friday that she had not heard from her 64-year-old husband since he left Lyon, France, where Interpol is based. A French official said Meng did arrive in China. There was no further word on Meng’s schedule in China or what prompted his wife to wait until now to report his absence. Interpol said it was aware of reports about Meng’s disappearance and added “this is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China.” The statement noted that Interpol’s secretary general, and not its president, is responsible for the international police agency’s operations.

Meng was elected president of Interpol in November 2016. His term runs until 2020.H e has held a variety of positions within China’s security establishment, including as a vice minister of public security — the national police force — since 2004. In the meantime, he served as head and deputy head of branches of the coast guard, all while holding positions at Interpol.

from https://thecrimereport.org

U.S. Braces for Election Cyberattacks

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says a “situation awareness room” in Washington will help states monitor attempts to sabotage the midterm elections. But despite her assurances, experts told a cybersecurity summit Tuesday that the U.S. has no credible deterrence strategies to prevent foreign cybermeddling.

A “situational awareness room” in Washington, DC will help states identify cyberthreats and defend themselves against attempts by foreign cyberhackers to disrupt next month’s midterm elections, says Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

The room, set to go live on election day, will be capable of information-sharing that is “faster, quicker and more tailored” than during the 2016 federal election, which U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed was the target of sustained cybersabotage by Russian hackers acting under the directions of Moscow.

Kirstjen Nelson

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson. Photo via Wikipedia

“States are taking this very seriously all the way to the county level,” Nelson told a cyber-security summit sponsored by the Washington Post Tuesday.

But despite the assurances of federal officials, security and intelligence experts at the summit warned that the country has fallen into such a “deep deterrence hole” that cyberwarriors in Russia, China and other nation states could be emboldened to step up their attempts to undermine the U.S. election process over the coming weeks.

“Over the past 20 years there have been a series of escalating attacks by both actors that have undermined U.S. interests, (but) both Russia and China have not found our pain point yet,” said James Mulvenon, a China expert with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

“For a long time (our declared) policy has been that we will only respond if there is a loss in human life, (but) there is a heck of a lot of terrible damage you can do to American interests short of killing someone.”

During 2016, even as U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged that Russian cybersaboteurs were actively attempting to undermine the electoral process through measure such as leaking stolen emails from Democratic Party officials, they refused to say whether and how they would respond⸺arguing that they didn’t want to signal their strategy, but also privately conceding their concerns that a tough counter-response by the Russians could do even deeper damage to the more vulnerable American economy.

The lingering uncertainty about the U.S. response may have weakened our ability to deter even more sustained and systematic cyber meddling by Russia, China and other foreign actors⸺creating in effect a “deterrence hole,” Mulvenon explained.

Echoing President Donald Trump’s recent warning that Chinese government-supported hackers posed a threat to the U.S. election process, Mulvenon said, “What Washington’s confronting is something they had not really paid a lot of attention to for a long time, which is that China has a global influence operations campaign of fairly large scale.”

At Tuesday’s summit, Nielsen said she was unaware of any “direct attacks on [U.S.] election infrastructure” by China⸺or by any other foreign player for that matter⸺during this election cycle.

“We currently have no evidence that a foreign adversary intends to disrupt our election’s infrastructure,” but she conceded that “we know that they have the capability and they have the will, so we’re constantly on alert.”

On the question of foreign governments trying to disrupt or spy on the U.S. midterms, Gen. David Petreus, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said Tuesday that he suspected “that there will be attempts, keeping in mind this is 50 different state election apparatuses that are out there, some of which have been shown to have vulnerabilities.”

He added, “we’ve seen what happened in 2016 very, very clearly, so I think the prospects of some of this happening [again] are real.”

Petreus said a “message clearly has to be sent to Russia,” but he did not say how the message should be delivered.

Aside from cyber-disruption of elections, panelists discussed the recent Facebook hack, with Microsoft’s Ann Johnson saying that Facebook’s swift public announcement of the personal information of 50 million users being exposed highlights a problem with the new privacy laws.

“You’re notifying, but you’re notifying with an incomplete set of information, one that is going to dynamically change,” said Johnson. “And I think that is the biggest challenge for corporations right now: They will be forced to notify by some of these privacy laws, but they are going to be notifying a large consumer base of folks who are not necessarily technologically savvy, which could then send panic.”

The cyber summit comes in the wake of the release of the Trump administration’s “National Cyber Strategy of the United States.” With this, wrote President Trump, “the United States now has its first fully articulated cyber strategy in 15 years.”

The national strategy is intended to boost deterrence against any adversaries in the digital domain. In the 40-page report, the White House unveiled efforts to strengthen federal cybersecurity and deter malicious actors from launching digital attacks.

There was measured praise for the Trump Administration report at the D.C. summit. Gen. Petreus said it represented “a regaining of momentum and an acceleration of what’s going on.”

In a separate interview with The Crime Report, Prof. Robert Chesney, a writer on cybersecurity issues and the Charles I. Francis Professor in Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Texas School of Law, called the strategy a “high-altitude document that has plenty of good, though not novel, things in it.”

He added: “Perhaps most notable is the extent to which it includes very positive words about the importance of international law and even international ‘norms.’ Not what one would expect.”

Interestingly, the Department of Defense (DOD) last week released its own “Cyber Strategy 2018”–one that outlined its plans to defend U.S. interests.

In it, the DOD said:

We are engaged in a long-term strategic competition with China and Russia. These States have expanded that competition to include persistent campaigns in and through cyberspace that pose long-term strategic risk to the Nation as well as to our allies and partners. China is eroding U.S. military overmatch and the Nation’s economic vitality by persistently exfiltrating sensitive information from U.S. public and private sector institutions. Russia has used cyber-enabled information operations to influence our population and challenge our democratic processes.

Comparing the DOD report to the Trump Administration report, Chesney said that the DOD document “has more granular content, as you would expect.”

Chesney the DOD report in a post on his Lawfare blog, saying, “It’s gotten lots of attention for calling for a ‘defense forward’ approach in which CYBERCOM would be active in getting into adversary networks overseas in order to disrupt hostile activities at the source.”

“Defending forward” is definitely the phrase of the day when discussing America’s heightened response to cyber threats.

“Great-power strategic competition, defend forward, and prepare for war: These are the three central tenets of the newly released summary of the 2018 Department of Defense Cyber Strategy,” wrote Nina Kollars, an associate professor within the Strategic and Operational Research Department at the Naval War College, and Jacquelyn Schneider, an assistant professor in the Strategic and Operational Research Department at the Naval War College, for “War on the Rocks,” of the Texas National Security Network of the University of Texas.

“The new [DOD] strategy document is decidedly more focused, risk-acceptant, and active,” declared Kollars and Schneider. “It centers on China and Russia, arguing that the United States must actively counter these state actors with a strategy that seeks to preempt, counter, deter, and win.”

A recording of Tuesday’s livestream report from the summit is available here.

Nancy Bilyeau is Deputy Editor of The Crime Report. She welcomes comments from readers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Exporting Murder: US Deportations and the Spread of Violence

Gangs like MS-13 are increasingly portrayed as threats to U.S. national security. But they are also the product of U.S. policies that deport criminal offenders back to Central America, where they have fueled the violence that has sent many refugees fleeing north, say two researchers.

The humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders recently published a report documenting the threats that drive 500,000 Central Americans away from their homes every year. The three countries of the so-called Northern Triangle— Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala—are among the most violent places on earth, with levels of violence that match the world’s deadliest war zones.

Many of those fleeing extreme violence in their homelands seek asylum in Mexico and the United States. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of refugees and asylum seekers from Northern Triangle countries has increased ten-fold since 2011. Notably, recent research by Michael Clemens of the Center for Global Development finds that the massive inflow of unaccompanied minors across the southern border of the U.S. since the summer of 2014 has been due, in large measure, to violence in their communities of origin.

Within a public discourse that often portrays refugees as a threat rather than victims who deserve help and compassion, one part of this story has largely been ignored: U.S. border control policy—notably the deportation of criminal offenders back to their countries of origin—has played a critical role in the spread of violence in Latin America.

Although immigration rhetoric and policies have become increasingly hostile under the Trump presidency, it is fair to say that use of deportation is nothing new.

One pillar of immigration policy since the mid-1990s has been a tough stance on immigrants who have committed criminal offenses while in the U.S. Between 1996 and 2015, the U.S. deported 5.4 million individuals back to their homelands. Forty percent of these—2.2 million – had committed a felony while in the U.S. By deporting convicted felons, the U.S. returns home persons likely to have developed connections with transnational organized crime upon incarceration in the U.S., and who are likely to have refined their set of criminal skills.

Christian Amborsius

Christian Ambrosius

The case of El Salvador is particularly illustrative.

This small Central American country has a Salvadoran-born diaspora of 1.2 million people in the US, corresponding to a fifth of its total population of 6.3 million. Two rival gangs, the MS13 (Mara Salvatrucha) and the 18th Street gang, have turned El Salvador into one of the most violent places on earth. Both gangs originated on the streets of Los Angeles, home to a large Salvadoran community in California.

El Salvador is also the country that received one of the highest per capita inflows of deported offenders from the U.S. By 2015, the U.S. had deported 95,000 criminal offenders—an amount equal to 1.5 percent of that country’s total population.

Journalistic investigations have linked the deportations of convicted gang members to the spread of gangs in Central America. But can we be sure that the gang expansion was caused by deportations? Or did gangs simply adopt the style and habits seen in the U.S. and the media while inhabiting a longer tradition of violence in a country torn by social conflict and civil war?

Digging into Salvadoran data provides evidence that gang-related violence has indeed been exported from the U.S.

Gangs did not pop up everywhere in El Salvador. Instead, the rise of homicides after the 1990s is strongly linked to patterns of emigration and deportations. The areas of El Salvador that are suffering the most from gang violence are those whose expatriates settled in U.S. cities with high criminal activities, such as Los Angeles and the Washington, D.C. area.

Why is that? When the U.S. started to deport convicted gang-members in the mid-1990s, those deported were mainly children of Salvadoran migrants who had settled in poor urban neighborhoods where they had been socialized into existing gang cultures. Deportees then returned to the communities where they had been born. As a result, homicide rates skyrocketed precisely in these places. This did not happen when migrants settled in U.S. cities where they had no contact with gangs.

Many might argue that El Salvador is a specific case that does not permit general claims about the export of violence via deportations. In our recent research, we therefore looked for systematic evidence across a large sample of more than 120 countries since the early 2000s. We asked whether the number of persons deported from the U.S. to a particular country had a statistically discernable impact on the rate of homicides in that country.

David Leblang

David Leblang

Our findings are striking. Even after utilizing a very conservative statistical approach, we find that, on average, an additional inflow of 10 offenders per 100,000 persons translates into more than two additional homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in the receiving country. Importantly, we only found this effect for the deportation of criminal offenders; no similar impact was observed if we focused instead on non-criminal deportations.

To illustrate the magnitude of the effect, consider the case of Honduras.

Honduras is one of the most violent countries in the world with a homicide rate in 2012 of 92 per 100,000 residents. Honduras also received one of the highest influxes of deported offenders that same year: 162 per 100,000 residents. Hence, our model assigns roughly a third of all homicides that year to the inflow of deported offenders.

Our results hold most robustly for the countries of Latin America. This occurs largely for two reasons. First, the deportation of convicted offenders is most relevant for Latin America in quantitative terms: almost 90 percent of all deported offenders over the period 1996 to 2015 were sent to Latin America. Second, the deportation of convicted offenders seems to fall on fertile grounds in many countries of Latin America: deportees are sent back to an environment where economic, political and social opportunities are likely limited.

It is also a region that has been characterized by historically high levels of social conflict and violence, and where criminal enforcement capacities of states are often weak.

The ‘Third Wave’ of Central American Immigration

Central America has seen three migration cycles over the last decades. In the 1980s, migrants fled civil wars between military governments and guerilla movements. In the 1990s and 2000s, the migration flow was dominated by Central Americans escaping poverty and the lack of employment opportunities at home.

Today, we are witnessing a third wave of immigration from Central America driven by violence. There is strong evidence that this violence has been fueled by the deportation of convicted offenders. This has several important policy implications. Not only does their deportation carry huge follow-up costs at migrants’ countries of origin, largely to be borne by innocent people. These policies are also ineffective in discouraging migration.

To the contrary: America’s export of offenders feeds a vicious migration cycle by further destabilizing countries that are already suffering from high levels of conflict and social exclusion.

Finally, these policies bear the risk of trans-nationalizing crime that may feed back into neighboring countries and back to the U.S. The most troubling example: the Central American gangs that have turned into a region-wide concern.

A sensible migration policy would not imprison and traumatize a new generation of innocent children as happened in the summer of 2018, but instead search for ways to help countries break the vicious migration cycle that haunts Central America.

Christian Ambrosius is a lecturer at the Institute for Latin American Studies and the School of Business and Economics at Freie Universität Berlin and currently visiting professor at the National Autonomous University (UNAM) in Mexico City. David Leblang is Ambassador Henry J. Taylor Professor of Politics and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow at the Miller Center of Public Affairs. This essay is an expansion of an article by the same authors that previously appeared in the Washington Post. They welcome comments from readers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

The Psychological Violence of Mexico’s War on Drugs

Mexico’s prolonged drug war has taken a significant psychological toll on all of its citizens, not just direct victims of violence, according to a study from the Mexican Center for Economic Research and Teaching. Researchers found symptoms of depression and deep emotional distress, fueled as much by state-sponsored military violence as by the gruesome actions of crime cartels.

The violence committed by Mexican police and military forces during that country’s prolonged drug war has wreaked a psychological toll at least as debilitating as the deadly acts of the drug cartels themselves, according to a study from the Mexican Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE)

The study, published in the International Journal on Drug Policy, entitled “Mourning our dead: The impact of Mexico’s war on drugs on citizens’ depressive symptoms,” found that the emotional distress produced by the war extended to all its citizens, not just to direct victims of violence.

The authors said they built on earlier U.S. research showing that mental health is influenced by “vicarious exposure to violence (witnessing and hearing about it), fear, and the victimization of individuals’ close acquaintances” to challenge the notion that the population-level effect of drug violence on non-victims is of limited importance.

The study argued it was important for policymakers to understand “that it is not only organized crime that terrorizes the population, but also violence caused by the government’s war on drugs.”

“Specifically,” it added, “the population is afflicted when government forces act without the appropriate safeguards and regulations that guarantee the security of civilians, and when the government systematically violates human rights.

“Consequently, resorting to less confrontational strategies to fight criminals should have benefits for mental health and wellbeing at the population level.”

According to the study, media coverage of the gruesome killing methods of the drug gangs, along with the “advertising” of their murderous acts by criminal organizations—through so-called “narcomessaging”—and the victimization of friends and acquaintances, worked as “stress transmission channels” for individuals who had not directly experienced violence.

The authors noted that the country’s high homicide rates and well-publicized clashes between criminal groups by themselves did not appear to produce emotional distress in Mexican society at large.

Nevertheless, they wrote, “the war on drugs is a strategy that is causing damage to citizens who are not directly involved in the conflict,” adding that “these non-direct victims should be identified, and mental health services should be provided in the most affected communities.”

Authors Iván Flores Martínez and Laura Helena Atuesta performed a combined analysis of municipal-level data from the Mexican Family Life Survey (MxFLS) and statistics collected by CIDE’s Drug Policy Program, focusing on the violent years of the Felipe Calderón administration.

Between December 2006 and November 2011, CIDE recorded a total of 36,378 violent events. That included 30,982 executions and 3,835 confrontations between criminal groups, or between criminal organizations and state forces. To measure the effect of different types of violence on citizens who were not directly touched by the violence as survivors, family members or bystanders, Martínez and Atuesta constructed a “depression index” from the Emotional Wellbeing section of the Mexican Family Life Survey interviews in the month following violent incidents.

These “non-direct victims” were found to be deeply affected by grisly incidents perpetrated by the crime groups, particularly their sadistic methods, such as extended torture, beheadings, burning, and dismemberment. The narcomessages left behind by perpetrators were also psychologically destabilizing.

But the study also found that depression increased significantly when government forces participated in violence; and the more local the security or police force, the worse the symptoms, according to the report.

“One additional confrontation with the participation of local [security] forces in the municipality increases depression symptoms by 5.5 percent. Similarly, one additional confrontation with the participation of the police in the municipality increases depression symptoms by 2.9 percent.”

Flores and Atuesta said these results reflect the lack of confidence citizens have in police, underlined by reports that organized crime has infiltrated local institutions.

Their findings could also be evidence that “in some parts of Mexico, people are more afraid of the way in which the government fights crime than of the criminals themselves,” they wrote, noting reports from the National Human Rights Commission (CMDPDH) that have documented the use of “torture and degrading treatment by the police, armed forces, and prosecutors to obtain confessions and testimonies through coercion.”

After pressure from the CMDPDH earlier this year, Mexican authorities released the findings of a 2016 visit from the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture, which found that members of local, municipal and state police as well as military and immigration officials were involved in these abusive practices. Meanwhile, the lack of independence between forensic labs and government prosecutors often means that torture by state actors remains concealed, according to the UN report.

Policy Implications

According to Flores and Atuesta, “Mexico requires police reform, not only to avoid the involvement of the military in public security operations, but also to avoid social and psychological damage produced by weak police forces fighting organized crime.”

The authors concede the difficulty in designing policy interventions to reduce the psychological damage of violence, since it is multi-causal and affects different sectors of the population more than others (including women, the elderly, and victims of forced displacement).

But they suggest that officials could implement “fear-reduction” strategies in municipalities most affected by violence, such as placing security cameras in public spaces, and improving neighborhood infrastructure. It’s unclear how the government can reduce the fear spread by narcomessages, which have proliferated since 2007 as drug trade organizations began to splinter and diversify their activities.

However, the authors argue that using “less confrontational strategies” to fight criminals would increase the mental health and wellbeing of the population at large.

An abstract of the report can be downloaded here. A full copy is available for purchase only.

Victoria Mckenzie, Deputy Editor-Investigations of The Crime Report, has frequently reported on Latin American issues. She welcomes comments from readers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Outgoing Mexican Prez Calls Smaller Gangs Drivers of Crime

If incoming Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wants to undo his nation’s culture of violence, he needs to focus his resources on the large numbers of young people without jobs or prospects around the country, according to a leading expert on Latin America.

Outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto blamed surging violent crime in Mexico on the inability of state and local police to handle the smaller gangs that emerged after the capture of cartel leaders in his final state of the union address, the Associated Press reports.

But other experts said if incoming Mexican president Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador wants to undo his nation’s culture of violence, he needs to focus his resources on the large numbers of young people without jobs or prospects around the country, according to a leading expert on Latin America.

 “Poor, rural communities make it likely young people will either migrate or become involved in criminal activity,” Eric L. Olson, Deputy Director of the Latin American program at Wilson Center in Washington D.C, told The Crime Report. 

“That’s one element that the new president has promised to deal with… but we will see if that’s effective.”

Peña Nieto blamed surging violent crime in Mexico on the inability of state and local police to handle the smaller gangs that emerged after the capture of cartel leaders in his final state of the union address, the Associated Press reports.

See also: Can Mexico’s New President End His Nation’s Violence and Corruption?

Last year, Mexico recorded 25 homicides per 100,000 population, the highest since comparable records started to be recorded in 1997—and higher than at the height of the drug war in 2011.

While local police in most parts of Mexico have long been ill-trained, poorly equipped and often corrupt, critics say current President Peña Nieto has done little to strengthen federal law enforcement.

Peña Nieto took office in 2012.

“Regarding law enforcement and security in this administration, little was done, much was abandoned and even less groundwork was laid,” wrote newspaper columnist Alejandro Hope. He noted there was very little increase in security budgets, federal police strength or the military under the current administration.

In his final state of the union address, Peña Nieto blamed surging violent crime in Mexico on the inability of state and local police to handle the smaller gangs that emerged after the capture of cartel leaders.

He conceding that he had not achieved his goal of bringing “peace” to the violence-racked nation, reports the Los Angeles Times. 

Peña Nieto, who leaves office with historically low approval ratings, sidestepped blame for poor economic growth and rising debt during his six-year term, and he warned Mexicans not to turn to a foreign policy of “indifference.”

Apart from corruption scandals, one of the things that has reduced Peña Nieto’s approval ratings is Mexico’s unabated gang-fueled violence.

The president said the federal government “had success in significantly reducing the capacity and size” of criminal gangs.

“Unfortunately, this weakening brought with it smaller criminal groups, without there being the capacity on the local level to effectively confront them,” Nieto said.

Olson would disagree.

He argued that corruption within the federal government was the reason crime has been able to surge in Mexico.

“We know there’s no rule of law. No accountability, and this creates an environment for more crime to prosper,” he said.

He noted the two underlying problems were a lack of governance and social economic issues, such as poverty and a lack of education among youth.

I think there’s a whole host of social economic issues Obrador will have to address, he concluded.

“Poverty, and lack of education.”

This summary was prepared by TCR staff reporter Megan Hadley.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Outgoing Mexican President Cites Small Gangs In Crime Rise

In his final state of the union address, outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto blamed surging violent crime in Mexico on the inability of state and local police to handle the smaller gangs that emerged after the capture of cartel leaders. Pena Nieto leaves office on Dec. 1.

In his final state of the union address, outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto blamed surging violent crime in Mexico on the inability of state and local police to handle the smaller gangs that emerged after the capture of cartel leaders, the Associated Press reports. Pena Nieto, who leaves office with historically low approval ratings, sidestepped blame for poor economic growth and rising debt during his six-year term, and he warned Mexicans not to turn to a foreign policy of “indifference.” His successor, left-leaning Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, takes office Dec. 1.

Apart from corruption scandals, one of the things that has reduced Pena Nieto’s approval ratings is Mexico’s unabated gang-fueled violence. The president said the federal government “had success in significantly reducing the capacity and size” of criminal gangs. “Unfortunately, this weakening brought with it smaller criminal groups, without there being the capacity on the local level to effectively confront them,” Pena Nieto said. While local police in most parts of Mexico have long been ill-trained, poorly equipped and often corrupt, critics say Pena Nieto has done little to strengthen federal law enforcement. Mexico had 25 homicides per 100,000 population last year, the highest since comparable records began being kept in 1997, and higher than at the height of the drug war in 2011. Pena Nieto took office in 2012. “Regarding law enforcement and security in this administration, little was done, much was abandoned and even less groundwork was laid,” wrote newspaper columnist Alejandro Hope. He noted there was very little increase in security budgets, federal police strength or the military under the current administration.

from https://thecrimereport.org

UK Police Leaders See Safety Risk in Brexit Quagmire

As a Brexit deadline approaches, UK police officers stand to instantly losing vital access to cross-border investigative powers and crucial databases. Police leaders have implored the UK Home Secretary to make contingency plans.

A no-deal Brexit poses a substantial risk to public safety, with police officers instantly losing vital access to cross-border investigative powers and databases, reports the Guardian. In a leaked letter, the national body of police and crime commissioners urge Home Secretary Sajid Javid to immediately draft contingency plans, warning that officers faced “a significant loss of operational capacity” should the UK crash out of the European Union in March. They say that they are becoming “increasingly concerned that such a loss of capacity could pose significant risks to our local communities.” The letter from the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) nonpartisan Brexit working group expresses alarm that the government does not appear ready for such a crisis.

The European commission’s Brexit preparedness unit, operating under its German secretary general, Martin Selmayr, has already said it would “switch off the databases” if a deal was not struck in the coming months. The APCC letter says British police make regular use of 32 different law enforcement and national security measures that depend on EU membership. These include the European arrest warrant – under which 1,735 arrests were made in the UK last year and more than 10,000 people were extradited since 2004 – and the Schengen information system (SIS), a vast database used by police to search for terrorist suspects, missing people and to check vehicle registrations and passport details. The SIS was checked 539 million times by British officers in 2017. UK courts depend on the European criminal records information system to establish the history of foreign offenders.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Riding a Mandate, Mexican Prez Vows Crime Crackdown

After winning the Mexican presidency in a landslide, Andrés Manuel López Obrador plans to leverage his strong political mandate to tackle the rampant violence that has ravaged the country for more than a decade. He faces a daunting task.

Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador plans to leverage his strong political mandate to tackle the rampant violence ravaging the country, reports the Wall Street Journal. López Obrador intends to take personal command of Mexico’s security strategy, rein in errant state governors and eradicate the corruption that fuels violence, said Alfonso Durazo, a veteran politician who the president-elect has chosen to head a new Public Security Ministry after the Dec. 1 inauguration. They are taking on a daunting challenge. Violence exploded in Mexico after 2006, when the government declared war on powerful drug cartels that control swaths of the nation’s territory. In 2017, there were close to 30,000 homicides, the most since modern records began in 1997.

Polls identified the rise in violence and corruption as being among the main reasons that more than 53% of Mexican voters cast their ballots on July 1 for López Obrador. The overwhelming victory gives him the political capital to exact cooperation from Mexico’s governors, Durazo said. “We have exceptional conditions, and we are betting on that,” he said. The lack of policy details, however, has rendered some experts skeptical. López Obrador has said he would create a National Guard as the main weapon to fight crime, but has offered no specifics on the plan. Beginning next month, Durazo is set to coordinate a series of seminars in different parts of the country to discuss security policy. Meanwhile, violence continues to rise, with 18% more homicides in the first half of 2018 than in the same period last year. And in the past, changes of administration at the state and municipal levels have often led to spikes in criminal violence as links sever between corrupt officials and criminal organizations.

from https://thecrimereport.org