Mexico senate approves pre-conviction property seizures in drug cases

Mexico senate approves pre-conviction property seizures in drug cases

[JURIST] The Mexican Senate [official website, in Spanish] on Thursday passed an amendment [Article 107 draft, in Spanish] to the country's constitution [text, PDF, in Spanish] that would permit seizure of property from suspected drug traffickers and other criminals prior to conviction. Under the proposed amendment, which will now be sent to the lower house, prosecutors may seek the seizure [Jornada report, in Spanish] of property and income derived from organized crime, including illegal narcotic sales and kidnapping. Currently, a conviction on the charges is required before property can be seized. The proceeds of the seizures will be used to pay for criminal investigations and to compensate victims. The bill passed only after safeguards for tenants and landlords who are uninvolved in crime were included.

The proposed amendment is part of Mexico's latest effort to combat drug-related violence and corruption. In October, reports indicated that both the Assistant Attorney General’s Office Specializing in Organized Crime (SIEDO) and the US Embassy in Mexico had been infiltrated [JURIST report] by a branch of the Sinaloa drug cartel, which payed officials to turn over confidential information. The chief of Mexico's Federal Preventative Police resigned [JURIST report] in connection to the investigation. In November, Mexican authorities detained [JURIST report] former assistant attorney general Noe Ramirez, one-time head of SIEDO, on accusations of receiving monthly payments of $450,000 from the Pacifico drug cartel.