PRESS RELEASE

UNODC and Mexico build strategic alliance to counter organized crime

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Vienna / Mexico City. 29 September 2011. UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov today started a two day official visit to Mexico and praised the country's efforts in countering organized crime, while warning the international community against viewing this as a localized problem.

"Organized crime and the criminals behind these networks pose a massive threat to the region and are increasingly impacting on other parts of the world." said Mr. Fedotov speaking after his first official meeting with President Felipe Calderón which was held this morning. "These criminals are responsible for the death and misery of people across the globe through their increasingly diversified illicit operations. We have to remember however that such violent crimes form part of a much bigger, worldwide picture in which we face a complex and shifting threat; we have to remember that while the crimes are often violently local, our solutions must be global."

The Executive Director's visit comes on the back of UNODC's current discussions with the Mexican Government as the two move towards establishing a strategic alliance aimed at strengthening a regional consolidated response to organized crime in Central America.

The meetings with President Calderón and a number of the country's senior leaders look to discuss areas from human trafficking and migrant smuggling through to illicit drugs and corruption. Reflecting on those who are often most affected by organized crime, the head of the UN's anti-drug and crime office expressed his solidarity with the people of Mexico: "On too many occasions, it is the citizens who have become victims while attempting to pursue a peaceful existence." Recalling last months abhorrent violence at a casino in Monterrey, the Executive Director pledged his Office's continued support to Mexico - a country whose location at the intersection between South and North America often places it at odds with criminal groups working to undermine peace and security.

In addition to discussions with President Calderón, Mr. Fedotov met and is scheduled to meet with several of Mexico's key decision makers during his visit working in the areas of safety, security and health. These include: the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Patricia Espinoza; the Attorney General, Mrs. Marisela Morales; the Presidential Spokesperson, Mrs. Alejandra Sota; the Minister of Public Security, Mr. Genaro García Luna; the Admiral Secretary of the Navy, Admiral Mariano Francisco Saynez; the Minister of Health, Mr. Salomon Chertorivsky Woldenberg; the Minister of Public Management, Mr. Salvador Vega Casillas; and the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Francisco Blake. The visit will also see the inauguration of the Centre of Excellence for Crime Statistics on Governance, Victims of Crime, Public Security and Justice which aims to improve collection of data and cultivate policy and research in these areas.

The Executive Director is set to speak on the issue of organized crime, its intricate links to illicit business, and the need to pursue a principal of shared responsibility between supplier/source and consumer countries. Calling for heightened cooperation at regional and global levels, Mr. Fedotov noted that "tackling organized crime and the criminals behind these networks without international collaboration is futile. If this is done without considering the wider region, we simply run the risk of having the crime networks relocate to a new country."

Speaking ahead of his visit the Executive Director commended Mexico's security and justice reforms which are seen as critical moves in tackling organized crime while simultaneously placing victims at the centre of support. The country's on-going security reform and other steps to respond to illegal activities is important as are recent moves which include improving conditions for victims of crime during investigations and protecting their integrity, dignity and identity.

Organized criminals are responsible for the death and misery of people globally through their increasingly diversified illicit operations including trafficking in drugs, humans and firearms, as well as migrant smuggling, money laundering and extortion. One commodity which is often favoured by criminals are human beings. Recognizing this, Mexico became the first country in the world to adopt the UNODC-led Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking in April 2010. Eight states have now formally adopted the Campaign and in August 2011 the City of Querétaro adopted the Blue Heart at a municipal level - another global first. Mexico is considered a model to the region - something which is supplemented by the country's strong political commitment to address this crime.

UNODC is also working with authorities and other UN agencies in Mexico to strengthen security and justice for journalists across nine states. As targets for criminal organizations and gangs, the protection or journalists and the promotion of a media system free of intimidation of violence is important.

Another area within which Mexico has been a regional leader - and which the Executive Director is set to discuss - is anti-corruption. Mexico's efforts in combating fraud and corruption are commendable, with Mr. Fedotov highlighting the importance behind tackling this given its close links to the spread of organized crime and the threat to security. As the lead UN agency working on anti-corruption, UNODC sees this crime as a dangerous, often destabilizing force and welcomes Mexico's ongoing efforts to counter this.

Related Links:

Press Briefing: Mexico City (29 September 2011)

For further information please contact:

In Mexico City, Mexico:

Antonio Mazzitelli, Regional Representative - Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean: UNODC

T: (+52 55) 5588 4426 | E: antonio.mazzitelli {at} unodc.org

In Vienna, Austria:

Alun Jones, Chief of Advocacy & Communications: UNODC

T: (+43-1) 26060-5726 | M: (+43-699) 1459-5726 | E: alun.jones {at} unodc.org

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