| MEXICO CITY
MEXICO CITY Aug 22 Mexico on Friday launched a
scaled-back version of a new police force President Enrique Pena
Nieto had vowed to create while on the campaign trail to
safeguard businesses against rampant organized crime.
Pena Nieto originally promised to create a 40,000-member
Gendarmerie Division to take the lead in tackling violent crimes
such as extortion and kidnapping, given that poorly paid
security forces have been easy targets for the cartels to
infiltrate and corrupt.
But the 5,000-member force launched on Friday will be part
of the federal police and focus on guarding agriculture, mining,
and oil and gas production against criminal groups, said Monte
Alejandro Rubido, director of the National Security Commission.
"If there is organized crime that could disrupt production,
then the Gendarmerie will be there," he told a news conference
on Friday. However, companies would not be able to request its
services, he added.
Mexico's Congress this year put the finishing touches on an
overhaul of the country's energy sector aimed at boosting
sagging production by luring private investment into an industry
long-dominated by ailing state oil giant Pemex.
Many private energy companies have expressed interest in
investing in Mexico's vast untapped fields, but are concerned
about the added security costs of operating in some hotspots in
Around 100,000 people have died and more than 20,000 have
disappeared since former President Felipe Calderon in 2006 sent
in the military to fight the cartels, which led to greater
In the past few years, criminal gangs have diversified their
activities beyond drugs to kidnapping, extortion, human
trafficking and fuel robbery.
With the addition of the gendarmerie, the federal police
will have more than 40,000 members in its ranks.
(Writing by Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein; Editing by Alexandra
Alper and Simon Gardner)