Some months ago, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto’s security and logistics team arrived in the northern state of Tamaulipas to plan an official visit. This procedure is commonly called in Mexican political jargon as “la avanzada” or "the advancement" and consists of scouting where the president is due to arrive and verifying hotels, routes, travel times and establishing coordination with state and municipal governments.
Nonetheless, this time an obscure incident interrupted the logistics team’s efforts. Members of a local drug cartel intercepted the government employees and ordered them to leave the state. They hopped on the first flight for Mexico City. After witnessing the clear and present danger, the federal government launched a law enforcement plan to rescue Tamaulipas. Nonetheless, Monday the northern Tamaulipas chief of military security and a woman were assassinated, their bodies found lying on a highway than connects Tamaulipas with the state of Nuevo León.
In the past years, the government has lost certain territories to organized crime and the ability of cartels to corrupt state and municipal law enforcement is putting Mexican high-ranking officials at great risk. Impunity even seems to be affecting the president's plans.
Another incident shows organized crime lurks everywhere, even under the commander-in-chief’s nose.
On weekends, Peña Nieto hits the golf course at Ixtapan de la Sal, a resort town about two hours away from Mexico City. This is Peña Nieto’s favorite spot for relaxing. Ixtapan de la Sal is a presidential retreat, a Mexican Martha’s Vineyard or Camp David.
However, the town made recent headlines when the entire municipality’s police department was detained by federal forces and taken to nearby military headquarters for questioning.
Eighty police officers that should have been on the lookout for potential threats as the president golfed are now believed to have been on the payroll of Guerreros Unidos, the criminal gang behind the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa college students.
Organized crime now seems to be preventing the president from traveling to certain states. Moreover, cartels are increasingly demonstrating they are able to infiltrate and corrupt those who are responsible for the president’s safety. Bribing the Mexican secret service would be extremely difficult but a state or municipal cop could feasibly sell information that puts the president or his family at risk.
If anything, these two disturbances show that not even the Mexican president is safe from the tentacles of Mexican organized crime.
Carlos Loret de Mola is an award winning Mexican journalist and popular news anchor of Televisa’s “Primero Noticias.” He has served as a war correspondent in Afghanistan, Haiti, Egypt, Syria and Libya and writes for a number of news outlets on issues ranging from the drug war to international politics. Carlos has broken many influential stories about the operations that led to the capture of some of Mexico’s most wanted criminals. In 2001 he wrote the book "The Deal. Mexican economy trapped by drug trafficking." He is a frustrated chef, runner and guitar troubadour… but he keeps trying.