Mexican authorities have arrested more than 60,000 people in connection with drug trafficking over the past two years, says the Washington Post. Drug trafficking in Mexico employs an estimated 150,000 people, so 60,000 arrests could represent progress. Yet the Mexican attorney general’s office was unable to say how many of the detainees remain in custody or whether they had been charged with crimes. It is not unusual for suspects to be arrested, paraded before television cameras but later quietly released without being charged.
In new report, Human Rights Watch alleges that the military has “committed serious human rights violations” while fighting the drug war, “including enforced disappearances, killings, torture, rape and arbitrary detentions.” Regarding the arrest data, “they can point to the numbers and say they are doing an effective job, but you have to ask: ‘What do these numbers really mean? Are all those arrested back out on the streets?’ ” said José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch. Says Carlos Flores, a Mexico City-based expert on organized crime: “Either they are detaining people for whom they cannot effectively articulate a legal basis for the crime they allegedly committed,” Flores said, “or the justice system is so permeated by these criminal organizations that even if their members are detained, they are able to get them out. Both are equally plausible.”