Mexico's Sheinbaum taps Garcia Harfuch as security minister in bid to tackle crime

Mexico's president-elect, Claudia Sheinbaum, presents members of her cabinet, in Mexico City

By Adriana Barrera

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexican President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum on Thursday named Omar Garcia Harfuch to be her security minister in a bid to repeat the successes in fighting crime she achieved as mayor of Mexico City.

Garcia Harfuch, who served as Sheinbaum's security chief when she ran the capital from 2018 to 2023, was credited with halving the homicide rate in the city.

In 2020, he survived an assassination attempt in which he was shot in the shoulder, collarbone and knee.

"We will strengthen the intelligence and investigative capabilities of the Mexican state," Garcia Harfuch said in a brief speech after being nominated.

He also vowed to further empower the National Guard, a federal security force created by outgoing President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador which has been criticized for failing to tackle organized crime.

More than 186,000 people have been murdered during the term of Lopez Obrador, making it the bloodiest of any Mexican presidency on record, as drug-related violence continues to plague the country. The government has, however, pointed to a decline in the homicide rate in the past couple of years.

Sheinbaum belongs to Lopez Obrador’s Morena party and has said she plans to continue his main policies. She takes office on Oct. 1.

Before the June 2 election, which Sheinbaum won by a landslide, her advisers said she wants to reduce Mexico's murder rate by 2027 to around 19.4 for every 100,000 residents - which would put it on a par with Brazil - from the present rate of 23.3 homicides per 100,000.

To achieve this, her advisers said she plans to double the number of federal investigators to 8,000, increase National Guard troops to 150,000 from around 120,000, decrease impunity through a judicial reform, and create youth education and community programs.

On Thursday, Sheinbaum also named current Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez to be her interior minister, in a significant piece of continuity with the current administration. As interior minister, Rodriguez will take on the important task of liaising between the federal administration and state governments.

Current head of the ruling Morena party, Mario Delgado, was named as her education minister, while Ariadna Montiel will continue as wellbeing minister, Sheinbaum announced.

(Reporting by Adriana Barrera and Anthony Esposito in Mexico City; additional reporting by Diego Ore, Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Diane Craft and Matthew Lewis)