Zapopan Mayor Pablo Lemus has vented his frustration following the arrest of a man during an attempted armed robbery of a convenience store in the Jardines del Valle neighborhood of the metro-area municipality.
The suspect, referred to simply as José “N”, was subsequently released by a judge, despite having been detained on three prior occasions in the past two months – all for attempted robbery with violence.
“What good does it do for the Zapopan police to detain delinquents only for the Prosecutor’s Office (Fiscalia General del Estado) to allow them to go free,” Lemus complained on Twitter.
Several metro-area mayors have criticized Mexico’s reformed justice system for giving too much leeway for lawyers to enable criminals to escape prosecution.
However, a major reason why so many suspects fail to come to trial is that arresting police officers are not following established procedures during the arrest process, making it easy for lawyers to obtain the release of their clients.
According to data obtained from the Fiscalia by Spanish-language daily Mural, one out of three persons arrested in the state between January and June this year was released – in many cases because procedures laid out in the the new justice system, the Codigo Nacional de Procedimientos Penales, were not followed to the letter. Chief among arresting officers’ failings is the inability to provide credible, scientific evidence – in writing – to back up their assertions that crimes have been committed. Their lack of training means that judges are obliged to release suspects considered as victims of “illegal arrests” under the law.
Lemus and Guadalajara Mayor Enrique Alfaro have both called for legislators to take another look at the new justice system and correct its shortcomings.