by Paula Buzzi
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
PACHUCA, Mexico – 25 drug cartel members, including a police chief, two commanding officers and seven agents were arrested this week in central Mexico for suspected ties to the notorious Zetas drug cartel. Hidalgo Mexico officials stated that several of the authorities arrested have admitted to helping the Zetas.
The Zetas gang is a drug-trafficking organization in Mexico that is suspected of forcefully recruiting young migrants to battle the Gulf Cartel for control of territory and power. Those who refuse to fight are often killed or beaten.
The arrests began on Sunday in Hidalgo state after state officers were attacked while patrolling the town of Huejutla, said Martin Vivar, spokesman for the Hidalgo state attorney general’s office. After the attack, six alleged drug traffickers were arrested and admitted to have operated in the area with the aid and protection of local police.
Concerns over police corruption have constantly plagued the Mexican police system and have frustrated efforts to control drug trafficking– allowing drug gangs to carry out their violent crimes without repercussion.
On 21 May, gang members opened fire on the Café Iguana in downtown Monterrey. A squad of eight policemen rushed to the scene but only stood by and watched as gang members began loading dead bodies in the back of a truck. The officers involved are now being investigated but only one has been arrested.
In September 2009, 124 municipal, state and federal level police officers were detained in Hidalgo after being suspected of collaborating with the Zetas.
Low salaries, an absence of resources and threats from the cartels are the most cited reasons for police complicity and overall corruption in police ranks.
“Our police do not have anything to lose,” said Jorge Domene Zambrano, executive director of the Office of Public Security for the state of Nuevo Leon, which includes Monterrey. “That’s why they are very easy to be kept by the bad guys.”
Javier Trevino Cantum, the state’s secretary general, acknowledges the problem and states that feuding off drug gangs is going to be a major challenge. The government is planning on revamping laws that will make it easier to go after drug gangs and targeting poor neighborhoods with social programs to help fend off recruitment by cartels.
For more information, please see:
CNN Latin America — Mexican police chief, officers charged with helping cartels —2 June 2011
El Universal — Encarcelan a 124 policías de Hidalgo ligados a Zetas —14 Sept 2009
The Globe And Mail — Police turn blind eye to Monterrey drug cartels — 27 May 2011
Univision Noticias — Detuvieron a 25 presuntos ‘Zetas’, diez policías entre ellos — 1 June 2011