After months of political debate, the Guardia Nacional (National Guard) proposed by Mexico´s new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was formalized on 27 May 2019. However, it remains a source of heated controversy. Some critics claim that it was unnecessary since Mexico already had a Policia Federal (Federal Police - PF). Human rights advocates and some security specialists argue that its military traits exacerbate the risk of abusive use of force and the militarization that prevailed during the Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and Enrique Peña (2012-2018) Administrations. The purpose of this essay is to examine why a new law enforcement institution was created and designed as a civilian-military institution. The main argument is that a new law enforcement (LE) corps with civilian-military features was a strategic necessity. Mexico lacked trustworthy and effective national police capable of controlling the kind of threat posed by Mexican armed criminal organizations (COs) or organized crime (OC) groups. I will begin by diagnosing the insecurity situation at the time of the creation of the GN and then define the characteristics of the GN. Afterwards, I will examine the two main questions and conclude with some final commentaries.
Guardia Nacional Guardsmen. Source Guardia Nacional
The training curriculum of veteran and new national guards incorporates instruction and practice of police procedures and skills; humanitarian and GN doctrine; and military discipline and operational/tactical capabilities. Training courses include the penal justice system, adversarial trials, and their role in them; first responders; gender equality; feminicides, police ethics; culture of legality; human rights; proximity policing; crowd control; police mediation; conflict management; and others. Besides their training at the GN, veterans had been previously trained at their former institutions. The PMs and PNs were trained on military and police skills in SEDENA and SEMAR. Iñigo Guevara, defense specialist, says that SEDENA´s “regular units were re-trained as MPs [military police] undertaking fast-track law enforcement courses in the proportional use of force, use of non-lethal equipment, human rights, evidence chain of custody procedures, crime scene preservation, and the adversarial criminal justice system.” Once they transferred to the GN, they “ received multiple specialization courses, . . . [including] First Responder, ... force Multiplier Effect, ... and Human Rights training.” Conversely, besides police skills, most veteran PF-GEN officers had some military training, while others had trained as special forces integrated by elite troops from SEDENA and SEMAR.
Moreover, the training of national guards emphasizes the proportional use of force, as per Mexico´s 2019 Ley Nacional del Uso de la Fuerza (Law on the Use of Force) and international conventions. They are trained on the use of arms and other control equipment, such as less-than-lethal disabling equipment—e.g., batons, tasers, sprays, and handcuffs—as well as short, long, and semiautomatic arms. Primary arms include Sig Sauer P-320 handguns, the Barret .50, and the H&K submachine gun. It appears that GN special forces also have access to the Mexican-made Xiuhcóatl FX-05 caliber 5.56.
The GN has a wide range of responsibilities, such as:
- Traditional proximity/preventive policing with investigative and penal procedural functions.
- Supporting federal social programs by guarding, transporting, delivering, and distributing assistance in kind and cash.
- Providing civil protection (GN Plan) during disasters and crises.
- Supporting local forces and the Mexican Armed Forces (SEDENA and SEMAR - FFAA) in special operations. The GN does not lead them.
- Supporting the search and rescue of kidnapped persons and desaparecidos (victims of enforced disappearance).
- Conducting criminal intelligence, surveillance activities, and complex investigations about crimes of federal and state jurisdiction. By contrast, the GEN did not perform functions, but the PF did. To enhance its intelligence capabilities against money laundering, the GN plans to have a Guardia Financiera (Financial Guard) operational by 2024.
- Patrolling strategic infrastructure—e.g., airports, highways, federal penal courts, prisons, public plazas, and others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the GN has protected hundreds of hospitals and health care personnel.
- Protecting industrial productive cycles—e.g., mining, lemon, and avocado—from protection rackets and robberies.
- Combating organized huachicoleo—the theft of fuel and its sale in the black market by COs. The GN prevents illegal fuel extractions from pipeline clandestine taps and the sale of stolen fuel, seizes it; dismantles illicit taps; and reinforces peripheral and air surveillance of petrochemical installations, control rooms, tank towers, and priority oil duct networks.
- Patrolling border and migration installations; checking documentation; detaining undocumented immigrants; and providing humanitarian assistance.
- Disrupting illicit supply chains. National guards intercept contraband of illegal firearms, bulk cash, drugs, and other contraband by monitoring package-delivery services, airports, highways, and border areas. Also, they dismantle synthetic drug labs and eradicate illicit fields of marijuana and poppy plants.
Guardia Nacional Conducting Joint Patrol with Local Police, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur. Source: Guardia Nacional, https://twitter.com/GN_MEXICO_/status/1323031774214017024?s=20.
Most critics oppose the GN because of its militarization. What do they mean? Abigail L. Hall and Christopher R. Coyne, George Mason University professors, use the term “indirect militarization” to refer to the process through which law enforcement acquire military-like features, such as training, equipment, tactics, and strategies, as well as engage in complex investigations and intelligence work. Actually, the GN is not an exception; all previous Mexican law enforcement had various degrees of militarization. At the least, they were trained by the FFAA and often commanded by retired military, as well as had military troops and even special forces. For instance, the Policia Federal (PF launched in 2009) inherited military troops from its predecessor, the Policia Federal Preventiva (Federal Preventive Police-PFP created in 1999). Also, the PF had special forces. John P. Sullivan, public security expert and practitioner, indicates that “military-style assaults and street battles waged by the gangsters ... led [the PF] to become more of a formed police unit or gendarmerie than a community oriented law enforcement organ.” Iñigo Guevara remarks that “the SSP and PF grew in capabilities beyond that of a traditional police force to include military-grade armament such as .50 cal general purpose machine guns and [other] equipment.”
The latest militarized LE institution before the GN was the Gendamería Nacional (GEN). The original idea in 2012 was to build it as an intermediate force dedicated to counter DTOs; under military command; and as part of the Army/SEDENA. But political factors impeded it. Ultimately, it was launched in 2014 with limited functions; as a minor division of the PF; under the civilian jurisdiction of the Secretaría de Gobernación (Secretariat of Governance-SEGOB); but trained by SEDENA and commanded by a retired navy Captain for its last three years. Before the launching of the GEN, drug policy expert Gary Hale had expressed, with some reservations, that “Properly trained, equipped and commanded, [the Gendarmeria] could serve to augment the offensive military forces that are needed to complement federal and state police forces.” That is, the GEN could be an asset against COs. But it was not, among other reasons, because key officials at the top of the chain of command of the PF-GEN sabotaged them. Nevertheless, opposition to a GN with military characteristics persists.
Understandably, given Mexico´s catastrophic drug war, critics fear more human rights abuses by militarized forces. But they were not all due to the militarization of public security. The ineffectiveness and abusive use of force of security forces, as well as other forms of violence are due to multiple factors; especially, tolerant and narco-colluded top federal and other authorities; poorly professionalized and colluded municipal, state, and federal police; a deficient and corrupt administration of justice; and a track record of impunity. Moreover, the strategy implemented by previous Mexican and US governments (2006-2018) relied heavily on the use of force. By contrast, the 2019 Estrategia Nacional de Seguridad Pública (National Public Security Strategy - NPSS)—a whole-of-government strategy of which the GN is a central component— reflects a paradigmatic shift that prioritizes human rights and the regulated use of force to reduce abuses and lethality. Eduardo Guerrero, security expert, explained on 22 July 2020 that under the new Mexican government, “the levels of lethality in confrontations between the armed forces and criminal groups” have declined significantly. Guerrero added that, “For the first time, the lethality levels have decreased and the relationship between civilians murdered and civilians injured has been inverted. Now we [sic] have more civilians injured and less civilians killed, while during the Peña and Calderón Administrations we always had almost all civilians killed in these operations. That has changed a lot.” Moreover, of the 163 recommendations issued since the 1990s by Mexico´s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) to prosecute SEDENA for physical and lethal abuses, only four involved military police, who are the majority of the national guards. However, until crucial transformations materialize in Mexico that help reduce the unrelenting violence and armed criminality, there is no alternative but to create a gendarmerie-style force.
Gendarmerie-style Guardia Nacional. Various factors explain why the AMLO Administration built the GN as a civilian-militarized force. They include recruitment challenges and budget constraints that impeded building a robust police force from the ground up. Another factor is that, paradoxically, Mexicans prefer the military to the police in the streets. Decades of ineptness, corruption, and abuses made Mexicans distrust and fear police officers. Certainly, also the FFAA have abused human rights and lethal force, as well as been involved in corruption/collusion cases. However, although it enrages them, Mexicans still trust soldiers more than police. A 2017 Parametría poll shows that 66% of the respondents favored the military, but only 18% preferred the police. In a 2019 Mitofsky poll the military ranked second as the most trusted institution, while the police ranked 14th out of 16 institutions. By contrast, the ENSU-INEGI poll dated March 2020 showed that 76% of the respondents trusted the GN highly or somewhat. The same poll indicated that respondents ranked the effectiveness against delinquency of the Navy (86.2%), military (83.4%), and the GN (69.1%) way higher than of state (48.5%) and local preventive police (39.9%). Hence, the AMLO security cabinet was convinced that a GN with civil-military officers and military discipline would be more trusted by citizens.
Foremost, however, the magnitude of the threat posed by COs makes it essential that Mexico has a trustworthy LE corps with the kind of dual capabilities that only a civilian-militarized institution can provide. Contemporary COs are not a bunch of pickpockets, but powerful organizations with military-type armament, like AR15s assault weapons, M2 machine guns or Browning .50 caliber, and RPG-7 anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) used RPG-7s to shoot down a military helicopter in Jalisco in 2015 and attack the vehicle of Mexico City Police Chief Omar García Harfuch in June 2020. The Cártel de Sinaloa (CDS) and others have similar arsenals. Their firepower makes them a significant threat; not big enough to defeat the FFAA, but capable of outmaneuvering and outgunning preventive police; and cause troop losses and bloodbaths of innocent civilians.
To control non-state armed groups like Mexican COs, scholars and practitioners recommend gendarmerie-style forces or Stability Police Units (SPUs). Michael Dziedzic and Colonel Christine Stark from the US Institute of Peace describe SPUs as “robust, armed police units that are capable of performing specialized law enforcement and public order functions that require disciplined group action. They are trained in and have the flexibility to use either less-than-lethal or lethal force, as circumstances dictate. They are rapidly deployable, logistically self-sustainable, and able to collaborate effectively with both the military and the police components of a peace mission.” John P. Sullivan, former L.A. police Lieutenant and expert in Mexican narco-wars, explains that neither the police nor the military alone have the required set of capabilities to control powerful Mexican COs. He remarks that “police are ill suited for addressing armed insurrection and military-type operations,” because they lack essential military tactical skills. By contrast, Sullivan says, gendarmeries or SPUs “are effective social control and security organs for operating in contested zones … where there is a need to bridge policing and military operations.” Professor and security specialist Nathan Jones elaborated on the needed capabilities during a webinar in July 2012. “You need a force with firepower and organizational capability to take on these groups, but at the same time, you need a law enforcement understanding and capability and rubric for them to operate under, so that they don´t infringe upon the citizenry´s civil rights.” Thus, the configuration and skills of gendarmeries and SPUs contribute to their effectiveness. Accordingly, Mexico’s GN is developing these kind of features and capabilities. They include:
- Becoming “rapidly deployable” and “self-sustainable” throughout Mexico.
- Operating in close coordination with military forces and other federal, state and municipal authorities.
- Becoming a robust federal force of around 100,000 troops with plans to double its size.
- Conducting intelligence operations and complex investigations.
- Training in policing, military tactical skills and discipline, human rights, and the proportional use of force.
Essentially, the GN is developing its potential to become an effective gendarmerie-style force to help reduce the violence that plagues Mexico.
Final Considerations and Conclusion
The GN is in its initial stages of construction as a gendarmerie. However, it will take years for national guards to consolidate and develop their full potential as trustworthy, human rights-abiding, and effective law enforcement. When they do, national guards are likely to become part of the solution and contribute to make it possible for the FFAA to return to the barracks. Even then, however, national guards cannot do it alone. Mexico´s historical conditions of poverty as well as ineffective, poorly professionalized, abusive, and corrupt law enforcement and justice institutions at all levels make the GN tasks difficult. The GN´s ability to achieve its objectives depends on Mexico successfully surmounting at least three challenges:
- The GN is an auxiliary to state and municipal police, not a replacement. Its role is to augment their capacity, but most of them are far from being capable of providing greater public safety to their communities. They need to be effectively overhauled, strengthened, and cleansed.
- Mexico needs an effective and solid penal justice system to reduce impunity and discourage criminality. It must be professionalized, cleansed, and its capabilities strengthened.
- The potential for corruption and human rights abuses in the GN exists. The challenge is to make them an exception rather than the rule. The development of strong and effective assessment and investigation mechanisms; accountability systems; internal and independent controls; and committed command is essential to reduce impunity and these offenses.
On the bright side, Mexico and national guards face an unprecedented window of opportunity to overcome some of the challenges and for the GN to become a trustworthy, effective, and human rights-abiding institution. Unlike previous administrations that presumably tolerated or abetted corruption and physical and lethal abuses, President López Obrador has the political will to make it happen. Obviously, political will and leadership by themselves are not sufficient, but they are indispensable.
 “Ley de la Guardia Nacional, Nueva Ley publicada en el Diario Oficial de la Federación 27 de mayo de 2019, DOF 27-05-2019,” Diario Federal de la Federación (DOF)Cámara de Diputados, 27 May 2019, http://www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/LGN_270519.pdf.
 Maureen Meyer, “One Year After National Guard´s Creation, Mexico is Far from Demilitarizing Public Security, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), 26 May 2020, https://www.wola.org/analysis/one-year-national-guard-mexico/ ; “Guardia Nacional: La tercera institución militar,” Mugs Noticias, 16 July 2020, https://www.mugsnoticias.com.mx/noticias-del-dia/guardia-nacional-la-tercera-institucion-militar/; Ernesto López Portillo Vargas (Coord.) with Samuel Storr, “Militarización de la 4T: 2018-2020,” Programa de Seguridad Ciudadana: La vía civil, Universidad Iberoamericana, 14 July 2020, https://seguridadviacivil.ibero.mx/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/PSC-Militarización-4T_24-07-20.pdf .
 “Modelo de Policía de Proximidad,” Gobierno de Mexico/SSPC, 4 June 2020, https://www.gob.mx/cms/uploads/attachment/file/556177/Modelo_de_Polici_a_de_Proximidad_04_06_2020.pdf“DECRETO por el que se aprueba la Estrategia Nacional,” DOF/SEGOB, 16 May 2019, in endote 10
 Javier Oliva Posada, “Perspectiva Social de la Guardia Nacional,” Vértigo Político, 23 October 2019, https://www.vertigopolitico.com/columnas/javier-oliva-posada/perspectiva-social-de-la-guardia-nacional,
 The Policia Federal Ministerial (Ministerial Federal Police) and the Agencia de Investigación Criminal (Criminal Investigation Agency), under the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) disappeared in March 2019. They were replaced by a federal investigative agency called the Coordinación de Métodos de Investigación (Coordination of Investigation Methods) under the new Fiscalía General de la República (FGR, similar to the US Attorney General/Dept. of Justice).
 Michael Dziedzic and Colonel Christine Stark, “Bridging the Public Security Gap: The Role of the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU) in Contemporary Peace Operations,” US Institute of Peace. 16 June 2006, https://www.usip.org/publications/2006/06/bridging-public-security-gap-role-center-excellence-stability-police-units.
 Also, national guards take basic knowledge courses like math, Mexican and world history, Spanish, English, writing, and others. "Decreto por el que se reforman,” 26 March 2019, in endnote 11; and Guardia Nacional/Gobierno de Mexico, “Elementos concluyen cursos de formación inicial de guardia nacional,” DOF/SEGOB, 10 December 2019, https://www.gob.mx/guardianacional/es/articulos/elementos-concluyen-cursos-de-formacion-inicial-de-guardia-nacional . For a more detailed list see Alejandro Hope, “Mexico´s National Guard: What do We Know so Far?” Wilson Center, January 2020, https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/media/uploads/documents/Presentacion%20Wilson%20Center%2015012020.pdf.
 “Conoce más de la Guardia Nacional,” SSPC (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública y Protección Ciudadana), Defensa (defensa.com), 24 July 2019, https://www.gob.mx/guardianacional/articulos/guardia-nacional-5?idiom=es.
 Jorge Medellín, “La Guardia Nacional recibe 50,000 pistolas Sig Sauer,” 29 April 2020, https://www.defensa.com/mexico/guardia-nacional-mexico-recibe-50-mil-pistolas-sig-sauer.
 “Ley de la Guardia Nacional,” Cámara de Diputados, 27 May 2019, in endnote 1. For a detailed list of GN actions and results as of 31 July 2020, see SSPC, “2 Informe,” 1 September 2029, in endnote 16.
 Proximity officers may be visibly distinguished from national guards in the field. They use uniforms of non-intimidating designs; wear arm bracelets with the words Proximidad; and visibly carry only less-than-lethal and short firearms.
 “¿Qué es la Guardia Nacional?”SSPC/GN (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública y Protección Ciudadana /Guardia Nacional), 24 July 2019, https://www.gob.mx/guardianacional/articulos/blog-noticias-1.
 The GN investigates these cases and helps with transportation and teams of forensic experts with canine binomials, sensors, drones, and aircraft. Victims of enforced disappearances are those persons who “are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government, or by organized groups or private individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, direct or indirect, consent or acquiescence of the Government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law.´” “Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 1993,” United Nations, https://www.un.org/en/observances/victims-enforced-disappearance.
 “2 Informe Gobierno de Mexico 2019-2020, Presidencia de la República, 1 September 2020, https://www.gob.mx/presidencia/es/articulos/version-estenografica-2-informe-de-gobierno-2019-2020?idiom=es. The GN coordinates with the national petroleum company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the FFAA, and other authorities to conduct these functions. Previous administrations did not persecute organized huachicoleo, although for years it has depleted financial and natural resources from PEMEX. This activity increased in 2000 and skyrocketed by 2018. Just between 2016-2019, the loss for Mexico is estimated at about USD$6 billion, as per Arturo Solis, “Los 5 estados con más huachicoleo durante 2018,” Forbes, 23 January 2019 https://www.forbes.com.mx/los-5-estados-con-mas-huachicoleo-durante-2018/.
 Since 1 August 2019, GN forces were deployed as part of the Operativos Blindaje Frontera Sur and Frontera Norte (Border Armor South and North) led by SEDENA to regulate massive inflows of undocumented immigrants and deter and dissuade US-bound transit. The GEN performed similar functions from 2014-2018. Maureen Meyer and Adam Isaacson, “The `Wall´ Before the Wall: Mexico´s Crackdown on Migration at its Southern Border,” Washingtonn Office on Latin America (WOLA), 17 December 2019, https://www.wola.org/analysis/mexico-southern-border-report/.
 “Conferencia matutina del Presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador,” Versión Estenográfica, Presidencia de la República, 18 September 2020, https://Lópezobrador.org.mx/2020/09/18/version-estenografica-de-la-conferencia-de-prensa-matutina-del-presidente-andres-manuel-López-obrador-378/.
 “2 Informe,” SSPC, 1 September 2020, p 25-26 in endnote 16. Some opposition governors, like the one from Guanajuato state, have refused to attend these daily meetings with the federal government. Meetings are known as Mesas para la Reconstrucción de la Paz (Roundtables for Peace Reconstruction).
 “Reglamento de la Ley de la Guardia Nacional,” DOF/SEGOB, 29 June 2019, https://www.dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5564530&fecha=29/06/2019. The law establishes that the top of the GN chain of command must be civilian. The first SSPC Secretary was Alfonso Durazo (2019-2020), a civilian. He resigned as of 1 November 2020 to run for a governorship. Rosa Icela Rodríguez was appointed to replace him. She is a civilian who, since the early 2000s, has occupied various public security positions in the Mexico City government and was its Secretary of Governance (2018-2020).
 The GN Commander is Luis Rodríguez Bucio, a PhD in national security affairs and retired 3-star General of the Mexican Air Force/SEDENA. His PhD dissertation is titled “The effectiveness/efficiency of public security policies to address the threat of drug trafficking in Mexico.” Among other positions before the GN, Bucio was President of the Council of Delegates of the Interamerican Defense Board-Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C.
 Alejandro Hope, “El problema es la Secretaría, no la Secretaria,” El Universal, 2 November 2020, https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/opinion/alejandro-hope/el-problema-es-la-secretaria-no-la-secretaria.
 “Acuerdo por el que se dispone de la Fuerza Armada permanente para llevar a cabo tareas de seguridad pública de manera extraordinaria, regulada, fiscalizada, subordinada y complementaria,” DOF/Segob, 11 May 2020, https://www.dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5593105&fecha=11/05/2020 .This authority was established first in the 26 March 2019 constitutional reform published in “Decreto por el que se reforman,” DOF/SEGOB, 26 March 2019,” in endnote 15.
 “Reglamento,” DOF/SEGOB, 29 June 2019, in endnote 37; “Presentan a comandante de la Guardia Nacional e integrantes de órgano asesor,” Conferencia de prensa matutina del presidente López Obrador, Presidencia de la República, 11 April 2019, https://presidente.gob.mx/presentan-a-comandante-de-la-guardia-nacional-e-integrantes-de-organo-asesor/.
 “World Report 2019: Mexico Events of 2018,”Human Rights Watch (HRW), https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/mexico; David M. Sabet, Police Reform in México: Informal Politics and the Challenge of Institutional Change, p. 5, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012 See Sabet´s Chapter 4 for Mexican police citizen abuse and human rights violations.
 Maureen Meyer, “Mexico’s Police: Many Reforms, Little Progress: Report,” Washington Office on latin America (WOLA), 8 May 2014. https://www.wola.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/La-Polic%C3%ADa-en-Mexico_Muchas-Reformas-Pocos-Avances.pdf; Juan Camilo Jaramillo, “Entire Police Forces Continue to be Arrested in Mexico,” InSight Crime, 21 August 2019, https://www.insightcrime.org/news/brief/entire-police-forces-continue-arrested-mexico/; and Arturo Angel, “Seis años de desvíos quebraron a Policía Federal; fraude supera los 2 mil 650 millones de pesos,” Animal Politico, 25 August 2020, https://www.animalpolitico.com/2020/08/desvios-policia-federal-2-mil-650-mdp/ Cartel and official narco-collusion expert Anabel Hernández, author of The Traitor: El diario secreto del hijo del Mayo Zambada, 2019, argues that the PF has been an illicit money-making enterprise for mid- and top-level officials responsible for supervising personnel, recruitment and promotions, equipment acquisitions, and other functions. They use their power to demand kickbacks and bribes and embezzle public funds.
 Elyssa Pachico, “Beating of Jailed Mexican Top Cop Raises Questions of Dirty Politics,” InSight Crime, 15 May 2012, https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/beating-of-jailed-mexican-top-cop-raises-questions-of-dirty-politics/; “Calderón supo de nexos entre García Luna y Cártel de Sinaloa: ex Comisario de PFP,” Aristegui Noticias, 12 December 2019, https://aristeguinoticias.com/1212/mexico/felipe-calderon-supo-de-los-nexos-entre-garcia-luna-y-el-cartel-de-sinaloa-ex-comisario-de-la-policia-federal/
 “Former Mexican Secretary of Public Security Arrested for Drug-Trafficking Conspiracy and Making False Statements,” US Department of Justice, 10 December 2019, https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/former-mexican-secretary-public-security-arrested-drug-trafficking-conspiracy-and.
 Arturo Angel, “Congelan más de 45 cuentas a Cárdenas y Pequeño García por sospechas de lavado,” Animal Politico,31 July 2020, https://www.animalpolitico.com/2020/07/congelan-cuentas-cardenas-palomino-pequeno-garcia-lavado/
 Daniel M. Sabet, p. 36, in endnote 44.
 Abigail L. Hall and Christopher R. Coyne, “The Militarization of US Domestic Policing,” The Independent Review, Spring 2013, p. 487, https://www.independent.org/pdf/tir/tir_17_04_01_hall.pdf.
 The Policía Federal de Caminos (Federal Highway Police-PFC, 1931-1999) had military troops. ASF (Auditoría Superior de la Federación), Grupo Funcional de Gobierno, “Informe de resultados de la fiscalización Superior de la cuenta pública 2011”. Policía Federal, Carrera Policial, Auditoría de Desempeño 11-0-36C00-07-0013 GB-124, https://www.asf.gob.mx/Trans/Informes/IR2011i/Grupos/Gobierno/2011_0013_a.pdfThe Policía Federal Preventiva (PFP) started with more than half its officers from SEDENA´s Military Police and SEMAR personnel, including those inherited from the Federal Highway Police. By 2007, over 16,000 military troops accounted for more than half of PFP forces, though many deserted later. In the end, the PFP had only 4,500 troops. Also, the PFP had special forces. Security and defense specialist George Grayson, remarks that the goal had been to model the PFP as a paramilitary force, like Chile´s Carabineros, but political events frustrated the plan. See George W. Grayson, “High Drama Over Mexico´s Next Defense Secretary,” Foreign Policy Research Institute, E-Notes, September 2012; Gustavo Carrillo Garcia, “La Guardia Nacional, otro intento para abatir la ola de violencia en el país,“ La Jornada, 2 January 2019, https://www.jornada.com.mx/2019/01/02/politica/011n1pol; and Daniel M. Sabet, 2012, p. 48, in endnote 44, cites Manrique Gandaría, “Se han integrado 16 mil soldados del Ejército a la PFP,” 22 May 2007. Gandaría´s article is unavailable online.
 In 2006, SSP Secretary García Luna began to convert the PFP into the Policia Federal (PF). But it was not until 2009 that the PFP was officially dismantled and the PF formalized. “Decreto por el que se expide la Ley de la Policía Federal,” Cámara, DOF, 1 June 2009, in endnote 21; Gustavo Carrillo, “La Guardia,” 2 January 2019 in endnote 55. “Mexico y las tragedias regionales,” InfoDefensa.com, 4 August 2011, https://www.infodefensa.com/latam/2011/08/04/opinion-mexico-y-las-tragedias-regionales.php. By 2018, the PF had only 37,300, including about 4,500 troops from the Gendarmería Nacional (GEN). Arturo Angel, “Con todo y Gendarmería, la Policía Federal tiene ahora mil agentes menos que al inicio del sexenio,” Animal Politico, 3 October 2018, https://www.animalpolitico.com/2018/10/policia-federal-menos-agentes-epn/.
 “Policía Federal: 90 años de contar con la confianza de Mexico,” Policía Federal Blog, 13 July 2018, https://www.gob.mx/policiafederal/articulos/policia-federal-90-anos-de-contar-con-la-confianza-de-mexicoThe PF special forces are known as GEOS or GOPES. See endnote 21 for more on them.
 John P. Sullivan,' The Benefits of a Paramilitary Force in Mexico," Chron (Houston Chronicle)/Baker Institute Blog, 4 January 2013, https://blog.chron.com/bakerblog/2013/01/the-benefits-of-a-paramilitary-force-in-mexico/.
 Íñigo Guevara, January 2020, in endnote 20.
 “De la Gendarmeria Nacional a la División de la Gendarmeria de la Policia Federal,” FDHS, 26 August 2014, https://fdhs.org.mx/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Germanderia.pdf.
 Gary Hale, “Paramilitary power in Mexico: A strategy shift in Mexico’s drug war,” Chron (Houston Chronicle)/Baker Institute Blog, 25 July 2012, https://blog.chron.com/bakerblog/2013/01/the-benefits-of-a-paramilitary-force-in-mexico/.
 Actually, during the previous years, the PF and other police corps committed more lethality and abuses than the military. The case of Salvador Camacho Aguirre, former Director of the PF Division of Federal Forces-GOPES is an example of extreme police lethality. Besides accusations in other cases, during his tenure Camacho was accused of torture and arbitrary execution of 22 victims in a confrontation that ended in a massacre with more than 40 people killed in Tanhuato, Michoacán in 2015. Patricia Dávila, “Cesan a mando de la Policía Federal acusado de excesos,” Proceso, 16 November 2016, https://www.proceso.com.mx/nacional/2016/11/16/cesan-mando-de-la-policia-federal-acusado-de-excesos-173950.html.
 “Presidente celebra avances,” Presidencia, 30 Jun 2020, in endnote 9; “DECRETO por el que se aprueba la Estrategia Nacional,” DOF/SEGOB, 16 May 2019, in endnote 10DOF/SEGOB, https://www.dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5565598&fecha=12/07/2019The NPSS is a strategy unlike the one (2007-2018) formulated and implemented in coordination with the US under the Merida Initiative. For more on the Merida Initiative, see Clare Ribando Seelke, 2020 in ednote 5. The NPSS´ central objective is to pacify Mexico, not combating transnational drug trafficking as under the previous Mexico-US strategy. In addition to human rights and the proportional use of force, the NPSS prioritizes intelligence, investigation, anti-corruption, law enforcement, and social development means over the use of lethal force. Its primary targets are no longer DTO kingpins, as before, but COs identified as violence-generators, regardless of illicit activity. The disruption of the illicit drug supply-chain is still an objective, but not the priority as before.
 “Policía Militar de cara a su incorporación a la Guardia Nacional,” Milenio, 25 February 2019, https://www.milenio.com/mileniotv/policia/policia-militar-cara-incorporacion-guardia-nacional.
 Mónica del Carmen Serrano, “AMLO´s Security,” 2019, in endnote 4, said that due to recruitment challenges, the PF was a “squalid” force of about 38,000. About insufficient budget, see “En 6 meses debe verse un cambio en tendencias de inseguridad: Durazo,” El Financiero, 25 February 2019, https://www.elfinanciero.com.mx/nacional/en-6-meses-debe-verse-un-cambio-en-tendencias-de-inseguridad-durazoMarcos Muédano, “Dan 30 mil policías más a Durazo para la Guardia Nacional,” La Silla Rota, 10 Jun 2019, https://lasillarota.com/nacion/dan-30-mil-policias-mas-a-durazo-para-la-guardia-nacional-cdmx-mexico-policias-durazo/289923he PF was nearly bankrupt and unable to pay even for basics, like utilities, gas for patrol cars, and hotel bills for lodging troops in the field. Arturo Angel, “La Policía Federal está en “quiebra”: debe casi 2 mil 500 millones y no tiene para pagar,” Animal Político, 15 April 2019, https://www.animalpolitico.com/2019/04/policia-federal-quiebra-debe-millones/
 The most shocking case of alleged narco-collusion is the arrest of 4-star General and former (2012-2018) Secretary of SEDENA Salvador Cienfuegos in Los Angeles, CA on 15 October 2020. The US DOJ charged him with drug trafficking and other related crimes from 2015-2017. Yet the DOJ and FGR accorded that US charges against Cienfuegos would be dismissed and he would be returned home to pursue the investigation, and possible prosecution, in Mexico. Whether or not Cienfuegos is prosecuted depends on the ability of the Mexican FGR and justice system, and the admissibility in Mexico of the US evidence. This is the first time that Mexico investigates such a high-ranking military official. César Gutiérrez Priego, “El poder del generalato en riesgo,” La Silla Rota, 24 November 2020, https://lasillarota.com/opinion/columnas/el-poder-del-generalato-en-riesgo/457950; Vanda Felbab-Brown, “Cienfuegos and the US-Mexico Firestorm,” Brookings, 23 November, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/11/23/cienfuegos-and-the-us-mexico-firestorm/.
 Jorge A Medellín, Defensa (defensa.com), 23 Oct 2020, https://www.defensa.com/mexico/fuerzas-especiales-ejercito-mexicano-enviadas-culiacan-para1. The CDS gunmen involved in the frustrated capture of the son of El Chapo in Culiacán, Sinaloa in October 2020 had similar weapons.
 Sonia Alda Mejías, “La Gendarmeria en México: Un proyecto frustrado pese a ser un eficaz instrumento contra el crimen organizado,” Real Instituto Elcanao, 16 October 2013, http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_es/contenido?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/elcano/elcano_es/zonas_es/comentario-alda-reforma-gendarmeria-mexico-crimen-organizado.
 Michael Dziedzic and Colonel Christine Stark/US Institute of Peace, “Bridging the Public,” 16 June 2006, in endnote 14.
 John P. Sullivan, “The Benefits of a Paramilitary Force in Mexico,” 4 January 2013, in endnote 58.
 Nathan Jones, participation in “Mexico, Drugs and a Possible Way Forward,” panel sponsored by Rice University´s Baker Institute, YouTube, 28 July 2012, video on "Mexico, Drugs, and a Possible way Forward," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fMwWRZVY7M.
 A big challenge, but outside the scope of this essay, is to conciliate Mexico-US security priorities in their bilateral agenda. To significantly decrease the violence in Mexico, it is essential to reduce US pressure to prioritize combating the drug supply/DTOs over Mexico´s pacification. Also, the US must try harder to reduce arms smuggling into Mexico and restrict domestic arms sales, which is essential for both objectives. Thus, a different US strategy—not centered on the use of force—is needed to address the drug supply-demand quandary.