- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2002

MEXICO CITY Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has been hired to help rid Mexico City of its infamously high rates of kidnappings, robberies and killings.

Mr. Giuliani, credited with reducing crime in New York by 65 percent, will work as a paid consultant to Mexico City's government for one year. It will be the first international security project for the former mayor's consultancy group.

"The similarities between what Mexico City faces today and what New York City faced in the late '80s and early '90s are striking," Mr. Giuliani told reporters at a news conference in New York City. "We're hopeful that we can be of assistance."

Mexico City has long been plagued by crime. Cab drivers have been known to kidnap passengers, hold them for several days and drive them to automatic teller machines until their bank accounts are empty.

Last month, Laura Zapata and Ernestina Sodi, sisters of Mexican actress and Latin Grammy performer Thalia, disappeared from their car after leaving a play in which Miss Zapata had a starring role. A friend of the family said kidnappers have requested a ransom of $1 million.

Thalia and her husband, Sony Music Chairman Tommy Mottola, were reportedly in the Mexican capital after Miss Sodi and Miss Zapata disappeared. The family has declined to report the kidnapping to police.

An estimated two-thirds of all offenses in Mexico City go unreported because many people believe that officials are involved in crime or that the justice system is too corrupt and inefficient to do anything about it.

Few reliable statistics on crime in the city exist, but a poll last month found that many Mexicans feel it is on the rise.

President Vicente Fox has made battling criminal activity a priority, and he has pressured Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to crack down on crime.

The two agreed in February to name as police chief Marcelo Ebrard, a former congressman who specialized in investigating corruption cases.

Mr. Ebrard will work with Mr. Giuliani and more than 15 people on the former mayor's team, including former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and former Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen.

Mr. Giuliani is expected to begin work with Mr. Ebrard later this year. He will evaluate Mexico City's police force and make recommendations for improvements.

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