Mexican ‘federales’ refuse to investigate organized criminal groups, Chihuahua AG says

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Chihuahua authorities say task of fighting drug cartels has fallen on them due to federal inaction

JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — After going through another month of bloody drug violence, Chihuahua state authorities are asking Mexico City to step in but are getting no response, they say.

A total of 162 people were murdered in Juarez in August, five fewer than in July. All but 10 of those homicides were drug-related and several involved multiple victims, Chihuahua Deputy Attorney General Jorge Nava said.

The Mexican Feds “are reluctant not only about initiating organized crime investigations, but also reluctant to receive investigative files that the state has put together and passed on to them to present to a federal judge,” Nava said in a Wednesday videoconference.

The state AG seemed to express frustration that, in the past four years, the federales have only taken over a single drug case in Juarez. And that was handed to them on a silver platter. “We were able to outline the structure of the criminal group, the duties carried out by each of its members, which perfectly fit the federal definition of organized crime,” he said.

Chihuahua Deputy Attorney General Jorge Nava

Two states in Mexico that are led by governors from the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, have openly engaged drug gangs. In Tamaulipas, Francisco Javier Garcia Cabeza de Vaca’s state police have shot it out on several occasions against members of the Northeast Cartel (CDN). The cartel retaliated with a three-day offensive that shut down Nuevo Laredo around New Year’s Day.

In Chihuahua, Javier Corral’s state forces as well as innocent bystanders came under attack last year after the attempted transfer of the “Mexicles” gang leader from a Juarez jail to a federal prison in the interior of the country. And this year, police again were targeted during a citywide offensive from the “Aztecas” drug gang following the arrest of their leader, Jose Dolores Villegas Soto, a.k.a. The Iraqi.

Nava said the state police have maps, organizational charts and know of activities the drug gangs engage in.

“They’re pyramid-like structures with a distribution of duties. We continue to solicit the support of federal authorities so they take charge of organized criminal matters,” Nava said, adding that such federal involvement has been “abandoned” in Juarez.

Chihuahua state police officers investigate a shooting against one of their own this week in Juarez. (photo by Roberto Delgado / Special to Border Report)

Border Report on Wednesday sought comment from the Juarez office of the Federal Attorney General. A press liaison said she was aware of the state official’s statements and would ask her superiors if they would be issuing a response.

‘Crooked cars’ may render security cameras, license plate readers ‘useless’

Meantime, Nava says another crime-fighting tool that the state had hoped to deploy shortly may hit a snag.

The state planned to deploy in the next few months a citywide system of surveillance cameras to prevent crimes and look for clues regarding the perpetrators. However, with the recent revelation that up to 60,000 vehicles are circulating in the city with expired U.S. license plates, paper plates issued by individuals, or no plates at all, the cameras may not be of much help, Nava said.

“That can render the cameras useless. If we record a crime or deploy license plate readers it would be a waste of money if we don’t get our vehicle registration in order first,” he said.

Nava added that state police would be helping Juarez authorities impound certain “autos chuecos,” the so-called “crooked cars.”

“We are in a community education phase. We are trying not to affect people’s livelihood. If they use (the vehicle) for work, school or other necessities, we don’t want to affect them,” he said. “We’ll be after those running around in a 2018, 2019 model car with printed plates. Employees will not be able to go into government (parking lots) if they have an irregular vehicle.”

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