By Brittney Hodnik
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – After months of drug related violence, failed protection, and shootings in broad daylight, the Mexican city of Veracruz-Boca Del Rio has fired its entire police force. The police had become so infiltrated with members of the Zeta drug gang, that there was no other choice.
President Felipe Calderon, who took office in 2006, has repeatedly vowed to cut down on organized crime. The biggest problem however has been with the local police, who are often employed by drug traffickers, according to CBS News.
“It was a fairly high percentage of people infiltrated or in collusion,” an unnamed armed forces official told the Associated Press.
Specifically, marines had already been deployed to help in the area after 35 bodies were found dumped on a busy road in September. Two weeks later, the navy found another 32 bodies in three different buildings, according to BBC News. The killings are likely linked to a battle between two of Mexico’s most powerful drug gangs – the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel.
Although other officers have been fired over the last five years for drug related and violence related crimes, this has been the largest crackdown yet. According to CBS News, 800 officers were fired Wednesday along with 300 administrative personnel.
The Gulf coast city of Veracruz-Boca Del Rio is home to approximately 700,000 people. In the meantime, about 800 marines or navy infantry are patrolling the port city according to News24.
The state reports that none of the dismissed employees are under investigation for corruption and each of them can reapply for his or her job. Each applicant will be required to undergo a new program of testing and background checks to prevent future problems, according to News24.
President Calderon leaves office in December 2012 and has promised to develop a more secure police force. Currently, the Mexican navy is training new officers to replace the recently dismissed officers. The process is expected to take about ten months.
Mexico has also begun a process to secure police forces throughout the country. According to the Washington Post, the federal government has been pushing an elaborate process for vetting all of Mexico’s 460,000 police officers, starting with polygraphs, psychological and toxicology tests along with personal and medical background checks.
For more information, please visit:
News24 — Mexico Fires Corrupt Police — 23 Dec. 2011
CBS News — Mexico Port City Police Infiltrated by Zetas Gang — 22 Dec. 2011
The Washington Post — Marine Official Says Fired Police Force in Mexico Port City was Infiltrated by Zetas Cartel — 22 Dec. 2011
BBC News — Mexico Disbands Veracruz-Boca del Rio Police Force — 21 Dec. 2011