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Cablegate: Mexico: The Legacy of Pgr's Medina Mora

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2009-10-27 22:20:00
09MEXICO3092
Embassy Mexico
CONFIDENTIAL

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MEXICO 003092

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/18/2028
TAGS: PREL PHUM PINR UN MX
SUBJECT: MEXICO: THE LEGACY OF PGR'S MEDINA MORA

REF: MEXICO CITY 002759

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Gustavo Delgado. Reason: 1
.4 (b),(d).

1. (C) Summary. With his resignation on September 8, Mexican
Attorney General (AG) Eduardo Medina Mora Icaza leaves a
two-fold legacy. His tenure in office was very positive for
the USG, as he forged a solid relationship with us, offered
full support on high-level extradition cases, and laid the
groundwork for future bilateral cooperation. He was clearly
committed to cracking down on Mexico's drug cartels and took
a strong stand on high-level corruption within his
institution. Notwithstanding his considerable achievements,
he lacked the political heft and possibly the institutional
vision necessary to transform fully the Attorney General's
Office (PGR) and make significant advances on crucial justice
reform issues. His modest record of convictions of thousands
arrested on drug-related charges, and his reservations with
regard to the more aggressive use of his office, clearly
contributed to Calderon's decision to replace him. Medina
Mora's biggest failure may have been his inability to
overcome the deep personal animosity he had with Secretary
Garcia Luna of the Secretariat for Public Security (SSP), a
source of additional tension between the PGR and the SSP that
undermined Mexico's counternarcotics effort and complicated
our Merida Initiative programming. End Summary.

Producing Results ....

2. (SBU) As the head of the PGR, Medina Mora was viewed as
one of the key members of Calderon's security team leading
the fight against organized crime. During his tenure, Mexico
realized new records in seizing cash - at least $214 million
dollars in drug money, though $207.4 million dollars came
from Chinese-born businessman Zhenli Ye Gon - and drugs, most
notably 35.1 tons of cocaine in two operations in October
2007. Medina Mora also banned the importation of
pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, the drug used to manufacture
methamphetamine, into Mexico.

3. (U) Recognizing the importance of a strong relationship
with the U.S. in Mexico's fight against organized crime,
Medina Mora played a lead role in forging greater
collaboration between our two countries. DOJ and DEA
officials praise Medina Mora for working through Mexico's
legal morass to produce record numbers of extraditions,
including many high-value targets. In January 2007 alone,
Mexico extradited 15 fugitives to the U.S. including leader
of the Gulf Cartel, Osiel Cardenas Guillen, with another 10
fugitives on the U.S. Most Wanted List extradited in December
2008.

4. (C) On the sensitive issue of arms trafficking, USG
officials generally credit Medina Mora with pushing for a
constructive and collaborative approach, rather than trying
to score cheap political points by attacking the Second
Amendment or publicly bashing the repeal of the Assault
Weapons Ban. There were some exceptions to his largely
positive collaboration, notably, at a conference in December
2008 where Medina Mora criticized the U.S. for having done
little to curb the illegal transfer of arms into Mexico.

5. (SBU) Perhaps most importantly, Medina Mora proved a key
player for the GOM in defining the Merida Initiative and
establishing areas for assistance and cooperation in terms of
equipment and training programs. He also sought greater
cooperation with Colombia on fighting the drug cartels. This
collaboration culminated in the Tripartite Agreement - an
agreement between Colombia, the U.S., and Mexico that helped
bring about the capture of several high-value Colombian
targets in Mexico.

6. (U) Medina Mora also took unprecedented steps to attack
corruption within PGR, the police, and local governments.
The anti-corruption investigative initiative "Operacion
Limpieza" led to the arrest of several high-level officials,
including his subordinate - former Chief Organized Crime
Prosecutor Noe Ramirez - arrested for passing information
about police operations to the drug cartels and receiving
monetary compensation. Medina Mora also had several mayors
arrested on charges of corruption, though this operation was
marred by accusations that political considerations had
driven the arrests.


MEXICO 00003092 002 OF 003


7. (SBU) Medina Mora's supporters applaud his efforts to
modernize the PGR. During his tenure, he created the
Costanza Project, a $200 million dollar initiative designed
to transform PGR's culture in part by promoting transparency,
training attorneys to build stronger cases, and digitizing
files in order to incorporate a paperless system. We are
hopeful that this program will be operational by next year
and that the new AG, Arturo Chavez Chavez, will continue
supporting its mandate. As another example of Medina Mora's
commitment to efficiency, Oscar Rocha, a Senior Advisor to
Medina Mora, pointed to his role in expediting the issuance
of search warrants - a process that used to require working
through local judges in cities where the property was
located. Now seven designated judges located in the capital,
working on a 24/7 rotational basis, can issue the warrants
for any property in Mexico through an electronic application
process.


But Falling Short in Some Key Respects

8. (C) On the downside, many of Medina Mora's critics
complain he did little to settle the historical rift between
PGR and the SSP. Given the personal animosity between Medina
Mora and Garcia Luna, the relationship deteriorated during
Medina Mora's time at PGR. The inability of Medina Mora to
strategize and work together with Garcia Luna hindered drug
enforcement efforts and the PGR's capacity to prosecute
criminals. Rocha ascribed the difficult relationship to
differing philosophies as to which agency should be
responsible for carrying out investigations. Whereas Medina
Mora believed Mexican law gave the PGR the lead investigative
authority, Garcia Luna was keen on seeing the police assume a
wider role.

9. (C) Others fault Media Mora for not doing enough to
promote greater transparency. As one example, PGR provided
little information regarding the steps it was taking to
institute justice reform, information we need to establish
our own program priorities. Emboffs also found it difficult
to obtain information from PGR on cases it was investigating
in a number of sensitive areas including human rights, TIP,
and crimes against journalists. Judicial officials from
several Mexican states complained about Medina Mora's uneven
communication with them on reforms and investigations,
hindering their efforts in both of these areas. Similarly,
the PGR never submitted its Merida coordination work proposal
to USAID, a document we requested to facilitate the
identification of priorities and the implementation of key
programs. It is unclear if Medina Mora felt these issues
were lower priority of if he simply failed to empower staff
to work them thoroughly.

10. (C) Representatives of Mexico's NGO community, as well
as the quasi-governmental National Commission on Human Rights
(CNDH), faulted Medina Mora for prioritizing operational
objectives over longer term reform. Some blame him for
securing adoption of reforms that violate the due process
rights of defendants, such as the establishment of pre-charge
detention ("arraigo") - for up to 80 days - for defendants
implicated in organized crime activity. Many welcomed
Mexico's adoption of a TIP law in 2008 but criticized PGR for
assigning responsibility and oversight to two offices - its
organized crime unit in SIEDO and its Crimes Against Women
Office in FEVIMTRA - creating competing jurisdictions for
dealing with TIP cases. Even Rocha conceded this was not the
optimal way to handle these cases.

11. (C) Much of the blame foisted upon Medina Mora for
delays in prosecuting criminals has more to do with Mexico's
antiquated justice system than with personal inadequacies or
lack of concern. Marcos Fastlicht, Director of PGR's Council
of Civic Participation, insisted Medina Mora genuinely
supported justice reform but could not always count on the
institutional or political backing he needed to produce
changes across the board. Rocha stated that Medina Mora,
with his connections to the opposition PRI, often had
disagreements with Calderon because he failed to tout the PAN
party line.

12. (C) Comment. A seasoned political player with allies
across the political spectrum, Medina Mora worked proactively
with us on cleaning house, improving training in the PGR, and
extraditions. His critics contend he could have done more to
implement judicial reform and bridge gaps with the SSP. New

MEXICO 00003092 003 OF 003


AG Chavez' strong PAN credentials will help him with the
Presidency, but there are those who believe Medina Mora's
replacement is a less capable political operator, who will be
overshadowed by Garcia Luna and stymied by his considerable
human rights baggage (reftel). The challenge of building
bridges with the SSP remains considerable and will require
Chavez to be both tough and adroit in dealing with the
difficult politics he faces. Implementing justice reform that
transforms PGR into a more transparent, pragmatic, and nimble
institution that works effectively with SSP will prove a tall
challenge for Chavez Chavez as well. End Comment
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 /

FEELEY

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