The arrest of Joaquin Guzman, the most notorious criminal in Mexico’s history, immediately made international headlines, but just as significant as his detention were the reasons that led to his capture.
The crime and violence that surged in Mexico some years ago originated from weakened security and justice institutions, the loss of public spaces in communities and the consequent breakdown of the social fabric – issues that were aggravated by lack of economic and educational opportunities.
President Enrique Pena Nieto has implemented an integrated, holistic strategy focused on addressing and preventing the root causes of crime rather than simply combating their consequences. The strategy’s primary objective is to guarantee the peace and security of every Mexican family in their community, and after a year we are seeing results.
The Mexican government’s efforts are focused on institutional strengthening that builds and consolidates security and justice capabilities. They also directed at preventing crime and violence through multilayered programs of social assistance, education and economic opportunities that effectively repair the social fabric and recover public spaces in our communities.
It is precisely the strengthening of institutional capabilities that undergirded the work of the Mexican security and justice forces during the months of investigation that eventually resulted in Guzman’s capture. In Mexico, there is now coordination between governmental security and justice institutions. Our navy carried out the operation, but all agencies of Mexico’s federal government were involved in the investigation.
Cooperation between Mexico and the United States in security matters also played a role, and it benefits from improved organization. Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam has recognized bilateral collaboration with U.S. agencies in information exchanges related to the arrest.
In the cause of giving peace to Mexican families and strengthening the rule of law, we have a steep hill to climb, but we are sure-footed and headed in the right direction. The undeniable evidence: Violence is down, criminals are being captured and tried, and information-sharing through bilateral cooperation is being put to good use.
In the end, the meaning of the detention of Joaquin Guzman is two-fold: Mexican forces arrested the biggest emblem of drug trafficking and violence of our time, and they achieved this victory through the use of intelligence, not force. That is an important sign of what is happening in Mexico.
The writer is Mexico’s ambassador to the United States. He has served as Mexico’s attorney general, secretary of public security and director of national intelligence.