Mexico’s controversial incoming security chief 

By July 11, 2024

Mexico City, Mexico — Mexico’s President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum announced part of her incoming cabinet last week, including her pick for the country’s top security chief.

Omar Garcia Harfuch, the former Security Secretary of Mexico City who survived an attack by the Jalisco Cartel but has also been accused of having ties to drug trafficking and corrupt officials, will serve as the country’s new Secretary of Security and Civilian Protection (SSPC), which oversees public safety and security apparatuses such as the National Guard, the prison system and the National Intelligence Center. 

His predecessor, current security chief Rosa Icela Rodriguez, was named as Sheinbaum’s new Secretary of the Interior. 

On the day of the announcement, Harfuch wrote on his X account, “Thanks to the President-elect [Claudia Sheinbaum] for the trust placed in me and in the team that I have the honor of leading. We will work in absolute coordination with [the Secretariat of National Defense] and [Secretary of the Navy], institutions that have always ensured the well-being of Mexicans.”

Controversy surrounding Harfuch 

Harfuch’s appointment was somewhat expected as he had served as Sheinbaum’s chief of security in the country’s capital from 2018 to 2023. On June 6, 2020, Harfuch survived an assasination attempt allegedly organized by the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG) in which he was shot multiple times.

As the City’s head of security, Harfuch saw crime cut in half, according to official government data, going from six homicides a day to two. However, reports indicate a serious underreporting of homicides, as 35% of possible violent deaths documented in the City were not categorized as homicides. 

However, since his time serving as the capital’s top cop, reports of his alleged ties to organized crime have followed Harfuch.

In 2020, an investigation by Aristegui Noticias revealed that Harfuch had “failed” multiple confidence tests during his time as an officer in the now-defunct Federal Police force. 

According to the investigation, on three occasions, Federal Police subjected Harfuch to a polygraph test related to his alleged links to organized crime. 

Harfuch reportedly “did not meet the profile” due to the lack of truthfulness in his answers, and according to protocol, should have been removed from police service. 

During his time in the Federal Police, Harfuch also made close connections with officials that are accused or have been convicted of corruption and collusion with organized crime. 

Harfuch’s recruiter, Luis Cardenas Palomino, is currently on trial for torture, and was considered the right-hand man to former national security chief Genaro Garcia Luna (2006 to 2012), who was convicted in the United States for working for the Sinaloa Cartel. 

Harfuch has previously said that he only met Garcia Luna “three or four times.” 

Harfuch’s controversy does not end there. According to the report from the Truth Commission, a team designed by outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to investigate the case of the 43 missing students in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Harfuch was present when the federal government planned to cover up the mass disappearance. 

The Commision said that Harfuch was present at two meetings where high-ranking government officials fabricated a false report and evidence to conceal the involvement of state security agencies in the students’ disappearance. 

Despite the controversy surrounding Harfuch, President López Obrador has praised his appointment as security chief and said he has done a “good job” fighting crime in Mexico City.