The federal Public Safety Secretariat, one of the pillars of the previous Mexican government's battle against organized crime, has been formally eliminated as part of a public administration overhaul promoted by new President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The overhaul, which Congress approved on Dec. 13, restores to the Government Secretariat the public safety functions that had been assigned to the Public Safety Secretariat since 2000.

With the change, the Government Secretariat will now oversee the 36,000-strong Federal Police force.

The decree published in the official gazette states that the Government Secretariat will be responsible for "formulating and executing policies, programs and actions aimed at guaranteeing the public safety of the nation and its inhabitants."

Mexico has a complex maze of federal, state and municipal police forces, while army soldiers and marines have also been deployed to violence-wracked areas as part of former President Felipe Calderon's war on drug cartels.

Two weeks prior to assuming the presidency on Dec. 1, Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, said the Government Secretariat would oversee the nation's public safety system.

In its dozen years of existence beginning in 2000, when the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, ended the PRI's 71-year stranglehold on power, the Public Safety Secretariat directed efforts that led to the capture or killing of numerous high-ranking cartel leaders, particularly during Calderon's 2006-12 presidency.

Those high-profile arrests, however, were accompanied by a drastic escalation in violence, with gangland killings becoming the second-leading cause of death in Mexico during Calderon's term.

Shortly after taking office, Peña Nieto pledged to establish "an authentic state policy" focused on achieving results in the public safety area. EFE