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Mexico’s Pena Nieto Taps Colombia Drug War Head for Cartel Fight

June 15, 2012

Mexican presidential frontrunner Enrique Pena Nieto named General Oscar Naranjo, the former head of the Colombian national police, as his top security adviser, pledging to launch a more effective fight against the nation’s drug cartels should he win the election in two weeks.

Sitting alongside Naranjo at a news conference in Mexico City last night, Pena Nieto also said he plans to work with the U.S., which assisted in Colombia’s assault on organized crime organizations, to improve security on both sides of the border. Naranjo helped engineer the crackdown that led to the demise of Medellin cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, and Pena Nieto credited him for reducing the homicide rate in Colombia.

“The reason we have this environment of fear today in Mexican society is the absence of security,” Pena Nieto said. “It’s clear that the Mexican people expect immediate results.”

A bloody turf war between rival gangs has claimed more than 47,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 and the government estimates that the drug war shaves 1.2 percentage points off economic output annually. Pena Nieto has said he would refocus the conflict by going after the worst crimes such as murder and extortion, expanding the federal police force and building better coordinated state police corps.

Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party leads in polls ahead of the July 1 election.

He had 37.8 percent support in a Consulta Mitofsky poll released yesterday, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party had 24 percent backing and Josefina Vazquez Mota of Calderon’s National Action Party had 21.6 percent support.

The poll of 1,000 potential voters had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Martin in Mexico City at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Roeder at

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