There is no doubt whatsoever that transnational organized crime groups are a threat to not only the security of the countries in which they operate, but also global security in general. Often operating in well-organized formations, transnational organized crime groups are often difficult to annihilate or contain. It should, however, be noted that given their impact on both the security and stability of the countries or regions in which they operate, the need to contain such formations cannot be overstated. This text highlights the various strategies that could be applied to rein in transnational criminal enterprises. The country of choice for this analysis is Mexico. It is important to note that today, crime remains one of the most important concerns facing this North American federal republic. Indeed, the country is home to some of the world's most violent and sophisticated organized criminal enterprises. For this reason, there is urgent need for strategies to reduce transnational crime in Mexico. I selected the said country for this analysis based on the perceived inability of the Mexican government to rein in runaway organized crime, and the fact that the country is often used as a launch pad for regional and global operations by organized criminal enterprises.
Description of the Country
Mexico, according to the Central Intelligence Agency -- CIA (2014) has an estimated population of 120,288,655 people. These statistics are based on July 2014 estimates. A significant chunk of the country's population (82%) is catholic (CIA, 2014). On the dominant language, it is important to note that Mexico is a predominantly Spanish-speaking country, with 92.2% of its population capable of conversing fluently in Spanish. With regard to urbanization, 78.1% of the country's total population resides in urban centers (CIA, 2014).
Currently, the country faces a number of socio-economic problems. These range from high crime and homicide rates to drug abuse to unemployment and corruption. With regard to crime, it is important to note that according to Estevez (2014), "despite efforts by the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto to reduce the alarming levels of violence that Mexico has become known for, there are no signs of significant improvement." Unemployment levels and drug abuse (a social problem amongst the youth) continue to be a headache for the country's ruling class. Corruption is also rife. Indeed, as Estevez (2014) further points out, most of those heading organizations doing business in Mexico brand corruption one of the key burdens for businesses. It is the said rampant corruption that provides perfect breeding ground for criminal formations.
There are three key factors that could be used to explain the presence of transnational organized crime groups in Mexico: corruption, lack of political will to tackle transnational criminal cells operating in the country, and an enabling drug trade environment. Indeed, in the past, it has been noted that "corruption has hampered international efforts to assist Mexico in improving its law-enforcement response to organized crime" (Galeotti, 2014, p. 15). With regard to lack of political will to combat criminal activity, it has been claimed, in the past, that some political parties have gone as far as cutting deals with organized criminal networks. To give some credence to the claim, Romo (2011) points out that as a matter of fact, there are many former Mexican public officials who are serving jail sentences for their diverse roles in furthering the interests of organized criminal formations. This unholy union between political operatives and gangs is one of the political factors that contributed significantly to the existence of organized criminal formations with regional and global reach. The thriving drug business in Mexico also facilitates transnational crime, particularly as far as funding is concerned.
Transnational organized crime groups in Mexico engage in a wide range of criminal activities. These include, but they are not limited to, drug trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, homicide, and assassinations. Some of the most popular criminal organizations operating in the country are Los Mazatlecos, Los Rojos, and Los Resistencia. In an attempt to end drug violence, President Felipe in 2006, according to the CNN Wire Staff (2011), deployed the nation's armed forces into various parts of the country, in what was seen as the final assault against drug cartels. Approximately 11, 000 people involved in drug trafficking and related activities were captured. When it comes to homicide, several individuals, mostly those seen as standing in the way or criminal formations, have been killed in the past. Most of these include journalists like Armando Rodriguez whose death was attributed to organized criminal elements. These two events are illustrative of criminal activities in Mexico.
The accomplishment of the objectives set herein would require the utilization of public funds. Other international partners could be roped-in to fund various initiatives.
1. Formulation of Policies to Address the Root Cause of the Problem
Some of the key factors that contribute to high crime rates in Mexico are unemployment, poor gun control mechanisms, and corruption. Formulation and implementation of policies to rein in some of these could help reduce crime rates, dealing a huge blow to organized criminal gangs and transnational criminal networks. For instance, with regard to unemployment, it is important to note that studies conducted in some countries from across the world have indicated that there is a positive relationship between crime and unemployment. This is no different in Mexico. According to OECD and the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (2013), there is indeed some positive relationship between the youth unemployment rate and crime rates (particularly property crime) in Mexico. In such a case, the Mexican government could, for instance, lower interest rates (so as to stimulate demand), cut taxes, or even increase government spending. These policy moves could be the solution to unemployment and, by extension, transnational crime.
2. Enhancement of International Cooperation and Partnerships
Given the very nature of transnational criminal formations, individual jurisdictions may find it particularly difficult to deal that fatal blow to such criminal enterprises. In that regard, therefore, the relevance of further enhancing law enforcement and political commitment and cooperation on both the regional and worldwide fronts cannot be overstated. Mexico should reach out to its neighbors and lay bare a strong case for cooperation -- particularly by conveying that transnational crime is a common enemy requiring the joint effort of all the stakeholders.
3. Enactment of Stricter Penalties
Currently, the penalties served on those found to be guilty of engaging in various criminal activities are not strict enough. For instance, currently, drug offenses in Mexico attract modest penalties. To rein in transnational organized crime in the country, there is need to tweak the current laws so as to ensue that the proportionality of punishment to the crime is appropriate. For instance, with regard to drug trade, it is important to note that those countries with the least recorded drug related offenses have laws that outline severe punishment for offenders. For instance, Singapore manages to keep drugs at bay due to its severe punishment regime for those charged and found guilty of drug and drug related offenses. Recently, a man was hanged after being found guilty of attempting to import marijuana (Juergensmeyer, 2014).
4. Disrupt the Operations of Drug Trafficking Cartels
In the Mexican context, drug trade is the bedrock of organized crime. It is important to note that by disrupting drug trafficking networks in existence across the country, Mexico will effectively be reducing both the availability of drugs (a key trigger of criminal behavior) and the distribution of the same. This will, in turn, deny organized criminal formations of the much needed funds to run their other operations. In the final analysis, this will be a positive move as far as national and international security is concerned.
5. Formation of a Special Paramilitary Unit to Combat Organized Crime
Currently, the fight against organized crime and drug cartels remains a joint effort of the country's military and law enforcement officers. Although this interagency approach may work in the fight against some forms of crime, it may not be sufficient to eliminate transnational organized crime. This is particularly the case when it comes to the need for swift deployment of personnel on the ground and the minimization of the threat of infiltration. The said unit should have a strong intelligence gathering arm and have an organizational structure similar to that of DEA.
6. Reformation of the Country's Security Organs
As I have already pointed out elsewhere in this text, corruption is rife in Mexico -- something that is seen as a major handicap in the war against organized crime. According to OECD and the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (2013), high ranking law enforcement officers have in the past been accused of abetting crime or turning a blind eye to the same, in exchange for some kickbacks. In this case, I would propose an independent vetting process for senior security chiefs. Such vetting should be conducted by a panel of eminent persons elected to the commission independently. Further, active public participation should be encouraged on this front.…