Small Wars Journal

Researchers Note: Acronyms of the Mexican Drug War

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 12:29pm

Researchers Note:  Acronyms of the Mexican Drug War

Acronyms and Translations of Security and Government Agencies in Mexico’s Drug War

John P. Sullivan

Mexico’s drug war is a complex situation involving the police, military, and a range of government agencies facing competition from a number of gangs and cartels.  The resulting on-going high intensity crime and criminal insurgencies are increasingly reported by micro-blogs such as Twitter and other social media.  Acronyms are an integral part of this reportage. 

This reference guide describes the acronyms in current usage.  This guide is representative rather than all-inclusive.  Mexican law enforcement agencies—like all bureaucracies—are disbanded, consolidated with others and change their names with changing priorities. In the case of Mexico, agency realignment is frequently the result of corrosive corruption penetrating the bureaucracies.  New iterations of enforcement agencies replace their corrupted predecessors. 

Realignments, for example, have led to the absorption of the Federal Preventive Police/Policía Federal Preventiva (PFP) into the Federal Police/Policía Federal (PF) and the Federal Investigation Agency/Agencia Federal de Investigación (AFI) into the Federal Ministerial Police/Policía Federal Ministerial (PFM), itself an arm of the PGR (Procuraduría General de la República)—Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office. The Gendarmería Nacional (GN) is currently under development. Historic entities, such as the notorious DFS (Dirección Federal de Seguridad/National Security Directorate), are not part of the main listing but illustrate the protean nature of Mexican security agencies.

Mexico has federal, state, and municipal police and prosecutors.  At all levels it is common practice to separate patrol and investigative functions into preventive and judicial police, respectively. State prosecutors are generally known as Procuraduría Generales de los Estados (PGE).

Listing all police agencies is near impossible.  Nevertheless, some common themes emerge: state preventive police are commonly known as Policía Estatal (PE), while their investigative counterparts are commonly known as Policía Judicial Estatal (PJE).  Police reform in Mexico is a work in progress.[1]  Currently there is a move to consolidate agencies and form new accredited police such as Nuevo León’s Fuerza Civil (FC).[2] 

Mexico also increasingly relies on the military to combat insecurity.  Here a complex dynamic between military and police results.[3] As a consequence, this listing includes key defense organizations. Key task forces, prosecutorial agencies, intelligence and other government agencies that are victims of the insecurity, or inform the situation, are also included.[4] 

It is expected that this is the first version of many, as the security and organizational landscape in Mexico adapts to address the constantly morphing insecurity.  The listing is organized by acronym, Spanish title, and then English title.

Listing of Acronyms and Agencies:





Agencia Federal Antisecuestras

Federal Anti-kidnapping Agency


Armada de México

Mexican Navy


Comisión Estatal de Seguridad

State Security Commission

CIM (Mexmar):

Cuerpo de Infanteria de Marina

Mexican Naval Infantry Corps (i.e., Marines)

CISEN (Cisen):

Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional

Center for Research and National Security


Comisión Nacional de las Derechos Humanos

National Human Rights Commission


Centro Nacional de Inteligencia

National Intelligence Center


Consejo Nacional de Seguridad Pública

National Public Security Council


Ejercito Mexicano

Mexican Army


Fuerza Aérea Mexicano

Mexican Air Force


Fiscalía Especializada de Delitos contra la Salud

Federal Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Health


Fuerza Civil

Civil Force


Fiscalía Especial para la Atención de Delitos Cometidos con la Libertad de Expresión

Special Prosecutor on Attention to Crimes Committed Against Freedom of Expression


Fiscalía Especial para los Delitos de Violencia contra las Mujeres y la Trata de Personas

Special Prosecutor’s Office for Violence Against Women and Human Trafficking


Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales

Special Forces Airmobile Group

GAFE del Alto Mano:

Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales Alto Mando

Special Forces Airmobile Group-High Command


Gendarmería Nacional

National Gendarmerie


Grupo de Operaciones Especiales

Special Operations Group (of PF)


Grupo de Reacción Operativa del Municipio de Saltillo

Operational Reaction Group of Saltillo


Instituto Nacional de Combate a las Drogas

National Institute to Combat Drugs


Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía

National Institute of Statistics and Geography


Instituto Nacional de Migración

Mexican Immigration Service


Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública

National Institute for Public Health


Policial Distrito Federal

Federal District Police

PEMEX (Pemex):

Petróleos Mexicanos

Mexican Petroleum


Policía Estatal

State Police


Policía Estatal Preventivo

State Preventive Police


Policía Estatal de Seguridad Publica

State Public Security Police


Policía Estatal Única

Unified State Police


Policía Federal

Federal Police (SSP)


Policía Federal de Caminos

Federal Highway Police


Policía Fiscal Federal

Federal Fiscal Police


Policía Federal Ministerial

Federal Ministerial Police



Procuraduría Generales de los Estados

Offices of the Public Prosecutors of the States


Procuraduría General Justicia del Estado

State Attorney General


Procuraduría General de Justicia del Distrito Federal

Attorney General of the Federal District


Procuraduría General de la República

Attorney General of Mexico


Policía Judicial Estatal

State Judicial Police


Policía Judicial del Distrito Federal

Judicial Police of the Federal District


Policía Ministerial de la Fiscalía

Public Prosecutors Ministerial Police


Servicio de Administración Tributaria (Aduanas)

Tax Administration Service (Customs)


Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional

National Defense Secretariat

SEGOB (Segob):

Secretaría de Gobernación

Secretary of Governance (i.e., Interior Minister)

SEIDO [5]:

Subprocuraduría Especializada en Investigación de Delincuencia Organizada

Assistant Attorney General’s Office for Special Investigations of Organized Crime


Secretaría de Marina

Secretariat of the Navy


Secretaría de medio ambiente y recursos naturales

Secretariat of Environment and Natural resources


Secretarado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública

Executive Secretary for the National Public Security System (SNSP)

SHCP (Crédita):

Secretaría de Hacienda  y Crédito Publico

Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit


Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública

National Public Security System


Seguridad Pública Municipal

Municipal Public Security


Secretaría de Seguridad Pública

Public Security Secretariat


Secretaría de Seguridad Pública del Distrito Federal

Public Security Secretariat of the Federal District


Secretaría de Seguridad Pública del Estado

Public Security Secretariat of the State


[1] See Daniel Sabet, Police Reform in Mexico: Informal Politics and the Challenge of Institutional Change, Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2012.

[2] For example, Nuevo León is creating a new state service called “Sistema de Policía Acreditable” (Accredited Police System), also known as “Fuerza Civil” (Civil Force) to replace corrupted police. See “Nuevo León Implements New Police Reforms,” Justice in Mexico, 01 June 2011 at

[3] See John P. Sullivan, “Police-Military Interaction in Mexico’s Drug War,” Air & Space Power Journal (Spanish Edition), October 2009.

[4] Some key task forces, such as Grupos Beta (de protección al migrante) an immigrant protection detail of the Mexican immigration service (Instituto Nacional de Migración–INM) are not listed as its title is not an acronym, although their home agency is listed.

[5] Formerly SIEDO (Subprocuraduría de Investigación Especializada en Delencuencia Organizada/Assistant Attorney General’s Office of the Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime).

Categories: El Centro

About the Author(s)

Dr. John P. Sullivan was a career police officer. He is an honorably retired lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, specializing in emergency operations, transit policing, counterterrorism, and intelligence. He is currently an Instructor in the Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California. Sullivan received a lifetime achievement award from the National Fusion Center Association in November 2018 for his contributions to the national network of intelligence fusion centers. He completed the CREATE Executive Program in Counter-Terrorism at the University of Southern California and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the College of William and Mary, a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs and Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research, and a PhD from the Open University of Catalonia (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya). His doctoral thesis was “Mexico’s Drug War: Cartels, Gangs, Sovereignty and the Network State.” He can be reached at