That attitude has caused some U.S. law enforcement agencies and members in Congress to question his commitment to the fight against organized crime, and it has led his Mexican rivals to assert that under Peña Nieto, the PRI and its governors would slip into a more accommodating relationship with the crime mafias, especially those like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel, which has a reputation for focusing more on drug trafficking and less on crimes against civilians.
Peña Nieto advisers said Naranjo would immediately begin to assist the campaign and would become the principal architect on the strategy against drug violence if the election goes their way.
“It is important to show to the United States and the rest of Latin America we are 200 percent committed to the fight against organized crime,” said a top adviser to Peña Nieto, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We are bringing in the best cop in the world to help us, an outsider who can offer new perspectives, who has a proven record of success.”
Naranjo, the son of a former head of the national police, worked closely with Washington’s intelligence services to build hundreds of cases that led to extraditions of Colombian drug figures.
He has pushed his government to approach transnational crime syndicates with collective strength and in speeches says that a key is the sharing of better intelligence. Mexico’s intelligence gathering is seen as especially weak and heavily reliant on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for leads.
Naranjo recently announced that he will also serve as an external security adviser for the Inter-American Development Bank.
Tall, urbane and soft-spoken, Naranjo has not been free of scandal. His reputation has been shaken by the arrests of police officers linked to corruption scandals. And in 2006, his younger brother, Juan David Naranjo, was arrested in Germany and accused of having been a cog in a European cocaine-smuggling ring, an episode the former general has said was deeply painful to him.
Correspondent Juan Forero in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed to this report.