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Mexico's Fox Starts Cop Crusade

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  • Djehuti Sundaka
    http://wire.ap.org/APnews/center_story.html?FRONTID=CSA&STORYID=APIS79SD0DO0 The Wire - News from The AP ... JANUARY 31, 21:55 EST Mexico s Fox Starts Cop
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2001
      The Wire - News from The AP

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      JANUARY 31, 21:55 EST

      Mexico's Fox Starts Cop Crusade

      By LISA J. ADAMS
      Associated Press Writer

      TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — A week after announcing a crusade against drug smuggling, President Vicente Fox took on the nation's law enforcement system Wednesday, pleading with all Mexicans to help keep police and prosecutors honest by denouncing corruption.

      Traveling to one of the nation's most violent cities, Fox urged Mexicans to report common crimes and announced a citizens' program to scrutinize the law enforcement system by making police files more accessible to the public in an effort to restore faith in the nation's crime-busters.

      Many crimes go unreported in Mexico because citizens have little faith that they will be investigated fairly. Those that are reported are largely ignored — even when there is a wealth of evidence — and even traffic police are known for holding people on false charges and demanding bribes.

      Cases that do go to trial can spend years working their way through a corrupt judicial system, and even prosecutors with the best intentions are held up by a lack of resources.

      On Wednesday, Fox promised to change all that.

      He promised to open up the files of law enforcement offices to the public, giving people a look at what police and prosecutors are doing to fight crime.

      ``Let's build a new relationship between the authorities and society: a government that fulfills its responsibility, and a society that evaluates and participates,'' Fox said.

      Fox also pledged to release future crime statistics on a timely basis — something many previous governments didn't do — and give police and prosecutors better tools to do their jobs.

      Most of all, though, he asked Mexicans to change past apathetic attitudes and denounce crime and corruption.

      ``Denouncing crime eliminates the possibility that it can take place in the dark,'' he said.

      Past attempts to fight corruption in the nation's law enforcement have largely failed in the face of an entrenched culture of bribery and disrespect for the law.

      Fox chose to announce the program in Tijuana because it has the country's highest record of violent crime, aides said. It is also the home of the notorious Arellano Felix drug gang.

      On Jan. 24, Fox traveled to Culiacan, another city near the Pacific coast plagued by drugs and violence, to declare a nationwide war on narcotics trafficking and organized crime.

      He promised a complete overhaul of the nation's corrupt prison system and strict adherence to a Mexican Supreme Court ruling that removed the last barriers for extraditing Mexicans for trial in the United States.

      Past attempts at fighting the country's growing drug trade have largely failed due to widespread corruption. A few weeks after being appointed Mexico's drug czar in 1996, former Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo was jailed for taking bribes from a drug cartel.

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