web: Europol goes global in the hunt for intelligence and analysis:
Fact and friction
Europol's business case
for Mexico discusses the Mexican Secretariat of Public Security
(SSP) and the General Procurator of the Republic (PGR) and notes
that "friction exists between the two organisations."
"The Mexican law
enforcement landscape remains very fragmented and Mexican intentions
have to be cautiously evaluated and assessed," says the
However, the "friction"
referred to by Europol is, according to Octavio Rodriguez's from
the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute, largely
a thing of the past.
At the beginning of the
administration of former president Felipe Calderón (of
the National Action Party, PAN, and in office from 2006 to 2012)
there was huge disagreement between the PGR and the SSP, which
even involved the PGR launching an investigation into the SSP.
Following what Rodriguez called "some political adjustments"
which saw the head of the PGR shifted to Mexico's embassies in
the UK and then the US, the differences between the agencies
are apparently "largely solved".
Corruption, crime and
Meanwhile, it seems Europol
will have to undertake further evaluation and assessment of the
"Mexican law enforcement landscape" as last month,
the SSP was disbanded by the President, Peña Nieto, of
the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). 
Octavio Rodriguez told
Statewatch that while the SSP is now "formally dismantled",
it has been reconstituted with "basically the same"
functions in a new body, the National Commission of Security,
which retains intelligence, crime prevention, rapid reaction
and special forces functions.
The transfer of the SSP's
functions is related to a bureaucratic streamlining of Mexico's
security forces. "The thing here is that the president is
intending to create a national gendarmerie," said Rodriguez,
with the aim of ending the military's role in public security.
A Human Rights Watch (HRW)
report from November 2011 notes that "more than 50,000 soldiers
are currently involved in large-scale counternarcotics operations
across Mexico," and where they are deployed they "have
taken on many of the responsibilities of both police and prosecutors
- from patrolling neighbourhoods to responding to shootouts,
from investigating individual crimes to gathering intelligence
on criminal groups." 
Research by HRW found
that Caldéron's policy of launching a "war"
on Mexican organised crime groups, in which the military were
the "centrepiece" of a strategy "almost entirely
focused on confronting the cartels with force," led to "a
significant increase in human rights violations."
This included security
forces "systematically [using] torture to obtain forced
confessions and information about criminal groups," as well
as evidence pointing "to the involvement of soldiers and
police in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances
around the country."
Rodriguez said that alongside
moves to end the military's role in public security, new emphasis
has been placed on human rights standards, and "the president
has said that the new forces
are going to put more emphasis
on training police in human rights. They do want to train the
forces - or at least that's the public discourse - and to make
it more respectful of rights."
But while there are still
massive profits to be made from the trade in drugs, this may
prove difficult. While under Calderón 3,200 officers -
nearly 10 per cent - from the federal police force were fired
in attempts to rein in corruption,  suspicions remain that
"the drug business is just too lucrative for some to pass
up."  In the late 1990s, a former government drugs chief
"was on the payroll" of a major cartel. 
Brazil's law enforcement
authorities have a similarly dubious human rights record to those
in Mexico. A Freedom House report notes that "corruption
and violence remain entrenched problems in Brazil's police forces,
where torture is used systemically to extract confessions and
extrajudicial killings are portrayed as shootouts with dangerous
A European Parliament
report from 2011 noted that "Europol's cooperation with
a number of third countries with poor human rights records under
international law and the Council of Europe system, such as Russia,
requires close monitoring." 
However, in terms of its
legal obligations, the agency is only required to assess whether
a third state with which it has an agreement applies "adequate"
data protection standards; and whether data can be considered
acceptable in line with Europol's "4x4" grading system,
which assesses the quality of source against the quality of information.
The European Parliament's
analysis ended with an open question: "could Europol receive
strategic information obtained under torture or other inhuman
or degrading treatment (in breach of Article 4 of the Charter
and Article 3 ECHR) or in turn facilitate law enforcement operations
in third states which impact on fundamental rights?"
America's back yard
Europol's liaison bureau
in Washington DC has had significant involvement in contacts
between Europol and its two potential new partners. Brazil sought
out bilateral contacts with the agency in June 2010 and they
subsequently met in Washington.
The Washington bureau
was also "tasked to identify areas for possible cooperation,
in particular the possibility that Europol/LB [liaison bureau]
Washington receive operational data from Mexico with focus on
Mexican organised crime activities in and towards Europe."
have travelled to Europol's headquarters in The Hague, and Europol
Director Rob Wainwright met Ambassador Sandra Fuentes-Berain
in December 2011 at the Mexican embassy in Belgium. Unspecified
"experts" from Europol's Operations Department have
also travelled to Mexico City, where they met representatives
of the SSP in May 2012.
ties" with Mexico is "supported by a number of MS and
partners, in particular the United States," say's Europol's
business case for an agreement.
Diplomatic cables released
by Wikileaks show that in December 2008, US officials felt that
"discussions at the November 14 [US-EU] Troika meeting on
Drug Issues confirmed US-EU convergence on most drug issues."
There is "much more transatlantic agreement than disagreement
on drug issues." Indeed, the only real sticking point appeared
to be the EU's insistence on maintaining a slightly less punitive
approach than the US by retaining the concept of "harm reduction"
as part of its drugs policy. 
A new approach?
The increased interest
of Europol in South American drug production and trafficking
comes at the same time that many political leaders in Latin America
are shifting their rhetoric and policies on drugs.
In January 2010, "many
Latin American countries" began arguing that "the war
on drugs has failed," and began to adopt "more permissive
drug laws, including the decriminalisation of personal use."
In early 2012, The Economist
reported that then-president of Mexico Félipe Calderon
"called for a 'national debate' about legalisation, though
he then seemed to forget about it." Juan Manuel Santos,
Colombian president, argued in November that "if [taking
away traffickers' profits] means legalising, and the world thinks
that's the solution, I will welcome it." Guatemala's president
has called for drug trafficking to be decriminalised, saying
that "you would get rid of money-laundering, smuggling,
arms-trafficking and corruption" - some of the very problems
which Europol is hoping to try and address by expanding its reach.
Next week: Statewatch
News Online looks at Europol's proposed agreement with
Georgia, where human rights activists remain critical of the
new government's approach to data protection and covert surveillance
by law enforcement authorities.
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Nieto announces initiative to dismantle SSP and SPF,
Justice in Mexico Project, 16 November 2012
 Human Rights Watch, Neither
Rights Nor Security: Killing, Torture, and Disappearances in
Mexico's "War on Drugs", November 2011
fires thousands of police to combat corruption, Reuters,
30 August 2010
 Sarah Carlson, Mexico's
Future Strategy Shrouded by Ongoing Drug War: Will Nieto's Strategy
Prevail?, The International, 11 February 2013
 Ted Galen Carpenter, Is
the Mexican Government Going Easy on the Sinaloa Drug Cartel?,
CATO Institute, 10 February 2011
 Sarah Trister, Assessing
the 2012 UN Human Rights Council Elections: One-Third of Candidates
Unqualified for Membership, Freedom House
 Elspeth Guild, Sergio Carrera, Leonhard den Hertog, Joanna
of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and its Impact on EU
Home Affairs Agencies: Frontex, Europol and the European Asylum
Support Office, August 2011
"4x4" intelligence handling codes includes "dodgy
data", Statewatch News Online, January 2013
 USEU Brussels, Discussions
at November 14 US-EU troika meeting on drug issues demonstrate
overall transatlantic convergence on drug issues, Wikileaks,
12 December 2008
- Drug policy reforms in Latin America, Reuters,
29 January 2010
and battle fatigue, The Economist, 17 March 2012