07/30/12 (written by octaviusrod)- The Federal Investigation Agency (Agencia Federal de Investigación, AFI) officially disbanded on Thursday, July 26, with the Federal Ministerial Police (Policia Federal Ministerial, PFM) assuming operations in its place. The formal transition of both agents and responsibilities to the PFM occurred by a decree passed on April 26 of this year that further institutionalized the reform, which had originally been approved in 2009. The new police agency is housed under the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) and is similar to the U.S. Marshals Service. The five main tasks that the PFM is charged with are ensuring compliance of judicial orders; protecting witnesses, collaborators, and victims; conducting special security tasks; monitoring the Federal Center of Arraigo (Centro Federal de Arraigo); and locating foreign fugitives through the Interpol office in Mexico, which now depends on the PFM. The director of this new federal body, Vidal Díaz-Leal Ochoa–who allegedly has close ties with Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia Luna–is the former General Director of Operations Monitoring as part of the Federal Police (Policía Federal, PF) where he was based in northwest Mexico. He was removed from that position in 2007 following an incident that left 23 dead in Cananea, Sonora.
Under the regulation of the PGR, the PFM will have more powers than the AFI, including an increase in their involvement in the investigation and tracking of federal crimes. The PFM will operate as an independent body, and therefore have greater internal oversight, including that of hiring and retention of its agents. It will also change its operating model for police officers to participate more efficiently in the new criminal justice system, which is set to be in place nationwide by 2016. For his part, Director Díaz-Leal Ochoa announced that his agency plans to increase its strength and size from the current 4,195 agents involved to 7,000.
As an entirely separate body from that of the former agency, none of the members of the PFM are allowed to use the AFI’s logo and name. The PFM’s new uniforms, which were presented the day before the agency went operational, consist of a navy blue shirt, khaki pants and boots, and detailed insignia with the agent’s initials embroidered to prevent against imposter uniforms. Such sharp and coordinated outfits help to professionalize the police force, which has been an issue among Mexican police, particularly, at the local level. Díaz-Leal Ochoa did clarify that his agents often will dress in civilian attire given the investigative nature of their role; however, uniforms will be used in operations and searches, and by personnel assigned to surveillance of facilities and staff protection.