Mexico, Intelligence and Security
The seat of complex ancient civilizations, espionage and intelligence work has long been practiced in Mexico. Mayan societies and great city-states employed spies to seek information about political rivals and assess the strength of opposing armies. During the age of Spanish colonialism, Indian and Spanish leaders both employed intelligence personnel and diplomats to smuggle weapons, secure peace treaties, act as interpreters, and conduct espionage. After gaining independence from Spanish rule in 1910, Mexico established its own modern intelligence community. However, the nation weathered periodic political and economic turmoil.
Mexico maintains both civilian and military intelligence services, as well as a national police force. The Mexican intelligence community is organized according to the traditional distinctions between domestic and foreign intelligence, though many agencies utilize a multiplicity of intelligence gathering technologies and operational strategies.
The main civilian intelligence organization in Mexico is the Centro de Información de Seguridad Nacional (CISEN), or Center for Research on National Security. A government restructuring of the intelligence community established CISEN in 1989. The agency focuses on domestic intelligence and the assessment of threats to national security. The dramatic rise in illegal immigration, organized crime, and illicit drug trafficking have influenced intelligence policy, with increasing CISEN and law enforcement resources being devoted to combat these problems in recent years. CISEN employs human intelligence, as well as technological surveillance, and advises the government on security systems to guard sensitive communications and computer systems.
The Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional (SEDENA), Secretariat of National Defense, administers Mexican military intelligence. Though each branch of the Mexican military employs embedded intelligence units, the main military intelligence agency is the S-2 Second Section. S-2 coordinates joint intelligence efforts and processes information gathered by military intelligence operations. Military intelligence focuses on the collection and analysis of foreign intelligence, especially that which pertains to the strength and deployment operations of foreign militaries. Both CISEN and S-2 conduct regular counter-intelligence operations, and both have contributed to international anti-trafficking and anti-terrorism efforts.
█ FURTHER READING:
Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook, 2002. "Mexico." < http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/mx.html > (March 30, 2003).