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Mexico Authorities Struggle to Combat Corruption Among Politicians

Can Mexico escape the never-ending drug war if its politicians continue to choose corruption? A report in the Washington Post told of the arrest of 10 Mexican mayors for alleged ties to an infamous drug cartel. According to Mexican authorities and their U.S. government allies, the “age of impunity for corrupt Mexican politicians was finally over.”

The news in Mexico was dominated by the mass detentions of elected officials from bustling towns. The move was seen as a bold new move in the vicious drug war that has consumed the country.

The only problem with this move was a lack of evidence. So, one by one, the government has quietly released the politicians as federal prosecutors dropped their cases and judges ordered that they be set free.

This embarrassment is felt throughout the anti-drug movement. U.S. diplomats who once hailed the arrests now rarely mention them, although they do serve as the perfect cautionary tale of the difficulty in changing Mexico’s ineffective criminal-justice system.

"I confess that when they arrested the mayors, myself and many people thought, finally!" said Miguel Sarre, a lawyer and professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico and a leading expert on the nation's judiciary. "But this shows that either the government was not capable of thorough investigation and making a strong case, or the arrests were politically motivated."

Law enforcement authorities in Mexico continue to be hard pressed to win major conspiracy cases. In many cases, they either arrest the wrong people or prosecutors are dealing with incompetence. In the case of the mayors, nine of the 10 are now free and most have returned to their duties at city hall.


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