Army, Navy Take Control of Customs in MexicoBy Alessa Flores | Tue, 07/21/2020 - 13:22
Mexico's President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, announced on July 17 in Colima that the Army and Navy will be in charge of land and maritime customs, as well as ports. This, in response to the country's wave of insecurity and drug trafficking. López Obrador also explained that although Manzanillo's port has had a historic and relevant role in Mexico's trade with the world, "it is also a place where drugs are introduced to Mexico."
The president stressed that Mexico no longer receives only drugs of natural origin, such as marijuana or poppy, but has also become a destination for chemical drugs. “Chemical drugs that are highly harmful and dangerous enter through the ports of Manzanillo and reach our youth. We cannot continue to allow this," said López Obrador. The Navy and the Army taking control of customs and ports will be key to provide greater security to the country, avoiding the introduction of drugs, but above all, "vindicating the mismanagement and corruption that has inundated these commercial points,” said López Obrador.
According to Comercio & Aduanas’ figures, Mexico has 49 customs offices, of which 19 are on the northern border, two on the southern border, 11 are inland and 17 are maritime. It should be noted that the three most important customs offices were Nuevo Laredo, Manzanillo and Veracruz. It is estimated that about 80 percent of the country's exports and trade between Mexico and the US goes through Nuevo Laredo, while Manzanillo stands out for its exit to the Pacific Ocean and its connection to the Asian market and Veracruz for its European route, according to a note by La Jornada.
Almost a month ago, the Tax Administration Service (SAT) announced that it had detected and seized in Chiapas and at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) drugs that were trying to enter the national territory illegally, according to a note by El Universal. Authorities seized 175kg of heroin in the City of Hidalgo in Chiapas and 31kg of fentanyl at the AICM, according to an official SAT statement.
However, not all the drugs that enter the country are for national consumption. It is estimated that for several years, Mexico has also positioned itself as a drug transit country. According to figures from the United Nations International Narcotics and Control Board (INCB), it is estimated that about 87 percent of the cocaine consumed in the US goes through Mexico and the remaining 13 percent through the Caribbean. In addition, Mexico is estimated to lead the methamphetamine and opium exports market in America; while poppy harvest also grew 60 percent between 2010 and 2017, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in a note by El Economista.
Regarding consumption, the World Drug Report 2019, prepared by UNODC, revealed that amphetamine stimulants displaced consumption of cannabis to second place in Mexico. However, alcohol intake continues to be the reason behind most urgent and emergency cases at hospitals.
In addition to security strategies, the Mexican government has decided clearly and forcefully "to change the paradigm of care and prevention of the problem of addictions, by moving from a prohibitionist approach to one based on human rights, health, integration of families and the population as a whole," said Deputy Minister for Prevention and Health Promotion, Hugo López-Gatell in an official statement.