Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, seen on the screen, delivers his sixth and final State of the Nation address at the National Palace in Mexico City, Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. President-elect and longtime opposition leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will take over the reigns of power on December 1. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Mexican president blames state, local police for crime surge

September 03, 2018 - 11:51 am

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's outgoing president has given his last state of the union address and blames state and local police for the surge in violent crime.

President Enrique Pena Nieto said the federal government "had success in significantly reducing the capacity and size" of criminal gangs.

But he said Monday that "unfortunately, this weakening brought with it smaller criminal groups, without there being the capacity on the local level to effectively confront them."

Mexico had 25 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017, the highest since comparable records began being kept in 1997.

Pena Nieto took office in 2012 and his successor will take office on Dec. 1.

Critics say the president has done little to strengthen federal law enforcement.