La Gendarmería Nacional, Mexico’s Inadequate Solution to Drug Cartel Violence


Since 2006, roughly “100,000 people have died and more than 20,000 have disappeared. . .” in Mexico as a result of drug cartel violence. The Mexican government’s proposed solution to reduce violence is the implementation of a new police force, La Gendarmería Nacional (“La Gendarmería”). Meanwhile, the Mexican people, tired of the perceived government inaction, formed vigilante forces to reduce the violence. As a subset example of the vigilante movement, this Note will focus on the vigilante forces within the Mexican state of Michoacán, known as the “Autodefensas.” The Autodefensas and La Gendarmería differ in their methods to reduce violence. Although both groups’ goal is to reduce violence in Mexico, the difference in approach creates a tension between them. This Note will argue that the Mexican government’s implementation of La Gendarmería is inadequate to reduce drug cartel violence in Mexico because it primarily focuses on protecting the government’s economic reforms which do not address the public’s ongoing oppression under the Templarios Drug Cartel of Michoacán. This Note will discuss La Gendarmería’s inadequate conduct, focusing on two mechanisms to reduce violence in Michoacán, the Autodefensas and La Gendarmería. It will further define the respective violence reduction methods of La Gendarmería and Autodefensas, and demonstrate that the respective methods are incompatible. Finally, this Note emphasizes the conflicts arising out of the tension between the Autodefensas and La Gendarmería, and proposes possible reforms for La Gendarmería based on France’s similar police force, the Gendarmerie National (French Gendarmerie).


La Gendarmería, Autodefensas, Mexico, vigilante, drug cartels, violence reduction, French Gendarmerie, France



Daniel Rico (Washington University School of Law)



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