Mexican state’s drop in crime seemed too good to be true – because it was | Society

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Even as swathes of western Mexico descended into drug-fueled violence, the rugged sierra and pristine beaches of Mexico’s Nayarit state appeared insulated from the bloodshed.

While murder rates rose precipitously in the rest of the country, crime figures showed a miraculous drop in the state – an achievement lauded by Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, when he visited the state in February and praised “a more than 50% reduction in the level of insecurity”.

Much of that success was attributed to Edgar Veytía, the state prosecutor who was lauded by a prominent anti-kidnap group and lionized his own ballad as a “hero” and “brave man” who “fearlessly applies the law”.

It seemed too good to be true – and it was.

Mexico state

Veytía was arrested on drug trafficking charges last week as he crossed the border to the San Diego, California, area, where his family resided and he visited every two weeks.

Analysts say that the arrest arouses suspicions that rather than fending off the worst of Mexico’s narco violence through luck or prudent public policy, the state instead achieved the illusory peace of a pax mafiosa.

“The message is terrible,” wrote columnist Diego Petersen Farah in the Guadalajara newspaper El Informador. “To get results in security you have to hand over the drugs market [to the mafia]. Nayarit put the safety of the state in the hands of organized crime – and in the short term, it worked.”

Accusations that a top anti-crime figure was acting in cahoots with organized crime has caused disquiet in Mexico, where the militarized war against cartels has dragged on for a decade, despite the killing and capture of dozens of crime capos and cartel kingpins.

The violence has…

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