Cablegate: Mexico Prosecutes First Case Under the Federal Tip Law

DE RUEHME #3668/01 3651836
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E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. On November 28, the Mexican Attorney General's
Office (PGR) charged 6 suspects with Trafficking in Persons (TIP) -
the first time anyone has been charged under Mexico's TIP law since
its adoption in November of 2007. The judge handling the case is
evaluating the PGR's petition and has ordered the detention of the
suspects until the resolution of the case. With four additional TIP
investigations underway, both USG officials and the PGR are
optimistic that more cases will be prosecuted under the TIP law in
the near future. By establishing a more direct and informative
dialogue with U.S. counterparts, and seriously pursuing
prosecutions, the PGR reaffirms its ability to tackle the challenges
posed by TIP. End Summary.

Why the Delay in Prosecutions?

2. (SBU) Many attribute delays to date on prosecutions to competing
jurisdictions between the two bureaus assigned to the investigation
and prosecution of TIP cases: the Specialized Bureau of
Investigation on Organized Crimes (SIEDO) and the Office for Violent
Crimes against Women and TIP (FEVIMTRA). Earlier in the year,
PolOff met with Sadot Sanchez Carreno, the Director of the TIP
office of the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH), to discuss
the delay in prosecuting cases under the TIP legislation. Carreno
noted that when TIP is suspected, the case is initially sent to
FEVIMTRA for investigation. If FEVIMTRA finds organized criminal
activity after conducting an investigation, the case should
hypothetically be transferred to SIEDO. SIEDO claims to have a good
working relationship with FEVIMTRA, but critics from the NGO
community fear that the competing jurisdictions between the two
complicate the timely and efficient investigation and prosecution of
cases. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have
worked with the GOM vigorously to help address this question.

3. (SBU) Both FEVIMTRA and SIEDO maintain that scant financial
resources and personnel problems also compromise the judicious
investigation and prosecution of TIP cases. Then-acting head of
FEVIMTRA, Oscar Gonzales Mendivil, told PolOff in September that
FEVIMTRA was a resource-poor bureau that did not have sufficient
staff to deal with TIP cases. Although SIEDO faces its own resource
constraints, it has 13 attorneys dedicated specifically to TIP
cases, while FEVIMTRA has a total of five attorneys who must cover
cases involving both violence against women and TIP country-wide.
Moreover, although FEVIMTRA deals with crimes against women, it
lacks the capacity and expertise to address trafficking issues.

4. (SBU) The PGR also cited as an obstacle to prosecution the
current trafficking law that limits what TIP cases FEVIMTRA and
SIEDO can investigate and prosecute. The law stipulates that for a
case to be prosecuted at a federal level, the crime must fall into
one of the following categories:

a. External trafficking,
b. Trafficking committed by government officials,
c. Trafficking occurring on federal territory, or
d. Trafficking involving organized crime, where three or more
individuals are implicated, and where the violence is systematic.
Cases that do not meet one of the four criteria identified above
fall to the states for investigation and prosecution. Both FEVIMTRA
and SIEDO argue that state attorney general offices and local police
forces should take more responsibility for prosecuting TIP cases
insofar as identifying occurrences of TIP within their states and
conducting investigations are concerned.

5. (SBU) Notwithstanding PGR's claim that the law limits the number
of cases that fall into its jurisdiction, it would appear that most
should in fact fall under the federal law as TIP almost invariably
involves organized crime. Meanwhile, the suggestion that the states
should take on more cases also appears flawed. The federal law is
included, to some extent, in the penal code of 20 Mexican states.
Chiapas and Mexico City, however, are the only two states that have
adopted the federal law in its entirety. Seeking to foist the lead
for most TIP cases back on federal authorities, states further argue
that the GOM has not provided them with sufficient funding to
implement TIP reforms. On this point, though, the states are on
shakier ground, as the federal government provides the states with
funding, dividing it among different state secretariats.
Unfortunately, no enforcement mechanism holds the states accountable
for spending funds on TIP.
Mexico's First TIP Prosecution

6. (SBU) Mexico passed anti-trafficking legislation over two years
ago in November 2007, but until recently the PGR had yet to
prosecute anyone for violating the federal TIP law. When PolOff met
with Guillermina Cabrera Figueroa, head of the Unit for the
Investigation of Smuggling of Minors, Undocumented People, and
Organs (UEITMIO) under SIEDO to discuss the lack of prosecutions of
TIP cases, Figueroa told PolOff that the Secretariat of Foreign
Relations (SRE) remained concerned about the USG annual assessment
of Mexico in its TIP Report. She expressed willingness to cooperate
with the USG in terms of exchanging information, and is optimistic
that Mexico's ranking will improve once it starts prosecuting more

MEXICO 00003668 002 OF 002

TIP cases.

7. (SBU) Presently, SIEDO is investigating five TIP cases. On
November 28 charges were filed in one of these cases thanks to
cooperation and coordination among the Department of Justice (DOJ),
ICE, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID),
and the PGR. This marks the first prosecution under Mexico's federal
TIP law since its adoption.

8. (SBU) The six suspects charged in the above-mentioned case were
involved in the recruitment and transport of Mexican women and young
girls for forced prostitution in the U.S. Following a DOJ-ICE-PGR
meeting in Washington, D.C. in late August 2009, a fugitive indicted
in a DOJ-led sex trafficking case in Georgia and three others were
arrested. The fifth suspect was indicted in the United States and
charged in Mexico. The sixth suspect and apparent ringleader
remains a fugitive who authorities believe to be in Mexico. A
follow up operation to locate and arrest him is pending. One
defendant in the case was arrested and pled guilty in the U.S. and
is pending sentencing there, while the other four are under
preventive detention in Mexico while the judge evaluates the
evidence against them. The progress made in this case - the first
of its kind in Mexico - speaks well of the collaboration between the
USG and Mexico on TIP, and offers hope that more TIP prosecutions in
Mexico will soon follow.

9. (SBU) Comment. Mexico deserves praise for its first prosecution
under the two-year old federal TIP law, but obstacles affecting the
efficient prosecution of TIP cases will continue to plague the PGR.
Sentencing of the suspects can take anywhere from one and a half to
two years. Both SIEDO and FEVIMTRA are well aware of the
institutional challenges as they attempt to tackle trafficking on a
national level. Getting all 31 states on board will be an even more
difficult task, given resource constraints and the need for
wide-range judicial reform. The GOM remains wary of its Second Tier
TIP country ranking and the possibility of falling back onto the
"Watch List" category. It is, nevertheless, encouraging that the
GOM appears to be taking TIP more seriously and that the PGR is
working closely with the USG to improve its record on TIP

© Scoop Media

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