Pena Nieto to Create Federal Police Force for Violent States

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said he plans to create a new federal police force starting with 10,000 military-trained officers who he’ll send to the most violent states to turn the tide in the drug war.

The armed forces, who were used by Pena Nieto’s predecessor, Felipe Calderon, to take on drug gangs starting in 2006, will continue their current role as the process of restructuring the state-level police proceeds, Pena Nieto said in Mexico City today. The announcement came during a meeting of cabinet members and the leaders of the nation’s 31 states and federal capital.

Pena Nieto, who took office on Dec. 1, had pledged at his inauguration to create a national crime prevention program after more than 58,000 people were killed in violence between drug gangs since 2006. In addition to the cost in life, the violence shaves 1 percentage point off annual gross domestic product, Calderon’s government estimated.

“We must recover peace, security and tranquility for all Mexicans,” Pena Nieto said today.

During his presidential campaign ahead of Mexico’s July 1 election, Pena Nieto said he wanted to model a new police force on France’s National Gendarmerie, a branch of the armed forces that performs police duties among the civilian population. He also said he would change tactics in the drug war, reducing violence by focusing on the worst crimes such as murder and kidnapping and eventually return the army to the barracks.

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