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Cablegate: Calderon Signs Narcomenudeo Law

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RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #2638/01 2471313
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041313Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8137
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0037
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHME/USDAO MEXICO CITY MX
RHEHOND/DIR ONDCP WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USNORTHCOM

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 002638

PASS TO ODC

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KCRM SNAR PINR MX
SUBJECT: CALDERON SIGNS NARCOMENUDEO LAW

REF: MEXICO 1278

MEXICO 00002638 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: On August 20 President Calderon signed
into law a reform that decriminalizes small scale possession
of drugs for the purpose of consumption, shifts the
responsibility for prosecuting small scale dealers to state
authorities, increases the penalties for small scale dealers,
and mandates the Health Ministry to develop a national
program for the prevention and treatment of drug abuse. The
new law, which President Calderon left unsigned for four
months following its approval by both chambers of the Mexican
Congress, represents an attempt by the GoM to establish a
legal distinction between users and traffickers which the GoM
believes is essential for cracking down on drug dealers.
Critics of the law are concerned that prosecutors and health
officials will not receive the resources they need to
prosecute effectively small time drug traffickers and attend
to the health problems of addicts. End Summary.

The Ins and Outs of the Law
2. (U) Trafficking in any type of drug, regardless of the
amount, will remain a crime punishable by up to 25 years in
jail. However, whereas federal authorities assumed the lead
on any and all cases involving drugs in the past, the new law
assigns state authorities the lead for dealing with consumers
and traffickers in quantities less than one thousand times
the established threshold limits, unless the activity is
considered subject to federal organized crime law. The law
also establishes a middle ground of "shared jurisdiction"
where either state or federal authorities can prosecute
cases. The Attorney General's Office (PGR) argues that the
distinction between consumers and traffickers will enable
consumers to get the treatment they need without being
subject to extortion by law enforcement officials. Equally
important, PGR maintains the law should facilitate more
effective investigation of drug traffickers by encouraging
greater exchange of information amongst authorities and
giving local and state officials the kind of lead they need
on investigations on crimes occurring in their jurisdictions.

3. (U) Reftel speaks to legal definitions the law
establishes for consumers and drug traffickers. Individuals
apprehended in possession of certain drugs in quantities
smaller than those established as the threshold limit for the
purposes of consumption but who do not demonstrate "symptoms
of dependency" are considered consumers. Once a prosecutor
confirms this finding, he/she will send a file on the
consumer to the proper health authority. Only upon being
registered in possession of this amount on a third occasion
will a consumer be required to obtain drug treatment.

Implementation Challenges
4. (SBU) Emilio Pea, Director General of Human Rights for
the PGR under former President Vicente Fox, conveyed several
concerns with the new law. While he appreciated the need to
give local authorities a greater lead on small scale drug
dealing in their states, he worried that local police lack
the proper training, weapons and intelligence mechanisms to
implement and enforce the law effectively. Pea flagged a
stipulation in the law that suggests traffickers will only
face prosecution if found in possession of "pure" vs
"tainted" quantities of certain drugs and wondered if this
could impede the prosecution of traffickers. Thirdly, Pena
criticized the law for being vague on the question of what
defined "symptoms of dependency" complicating efforts to
determine when consumers suffered an addiction.

Potency Matters
5. (U) Other experts fault the law for failing to make a
distinction between the effects of different drugs. For
example, while it recognizes that marijuana is a mild
hallucinogen and is commonly prescribed to address a variety
of medical conditions, the law does not acknowledge
differences for example with methamphetamines, a much more
powerful stimulant that can make the user psychotic and even
violent at low doses. These experts believe the law did not
sufficiently take these kinds of distinctions into account.

The Human Rights Perspective
6. (U) Mexican human rights NGO CenterProdh signaled its

MEXICO 00002638 002.2 OF 002


support for the new law insofar as it keeps non-grave
offenders out of jails. CenterProdh favors a more holistic
approach to dealing with challenges posed by illegal drugs
that focuses on drug offender treatment and rehabilitation.
It views jails in Mexico, in large measure, as breeding
grounds for criminal activity. As such, it worries that
incarcerating minor offenders may only aggravate Mexico's
crime problems. Of course, a number of organizations
questioned whether the GOM would make available the resources
needed to provide drug abusers with the treatment they need.

Squaring the Law with Drug Courts
7. (U) Eduardo Medina Mora, the Mexican Attorney General
(PGR), announced the opening of Mexico's first Drug Court in
the northern state of Nuevo Leon in September 2009.
However, it is unclear at this point whether or not first and
second time offenders who commit crimes and are found
possessing drugs below the threshold quantity will be subject
to drug courts and mandatory treatment. Mexican authorities
hope the drug courts will help break the cycle of addiction
and crime by mandating treatment for offenders. The
narcomenudeo law will complicate the task by not requiring
first and second time offenders to seek treatment.
Statistically speaking, the chance of catching the same
offender a third time is probably not high.

Comment
8. (SBU) With the adoption of this legislation, the Calderon
administration attempts to project a more holistic approach
to tackling the drug problems facing Mexico. In the course
of its first three years, interdiction initiatives took
center stage while prevention and treatment took a back seat.
This reform represents the administration's first
significant effort to address prevention, treatment, and
rehabilitation. Many see merit in assigning the states
greater authority for dealing with these issues and
distinguishing between dealers and users. Others, however,
worry a lack of resources will limit what authorities will be
able to accomplish in terms of both health facilities for
addicts and the investigation of traffickers. It is too
early to predict what contribution this law will make to
Mexico's efforts to combat illegal drugs, but in view of the
implementation challenges, some fear the decriminalization of
drugs will prove its ultimate legacy. Commentators offered
mixed reviews on this bill when the Congress passed it last
April with some conveying concern over the potential societal
impact of decriminalizing drug consumption and others lauding
the legislation as a welcome tool for focusing greater energy
on fighting drug dealers in local communities. Commentary
this time around has been restrained thus far as many appear
inclined to take a wait and see approach regarding its
potential impact.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /

PASCUAL

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