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Blog del Narco: Navy Arrests 35 Cops in Veracruz for Working with Los Zetas Cartel
Photo: Blog del Narco: Corrupt Cops
Mexico’s navy announced Monday the arrest of 35 police officers in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz on allegations they were working for the Los Zetas drug cartel.
Marines detained 16 of the suspects at the airport in San Luis Potosi, capital of the likenamed neighboring state, while the rest were picked up in Xalapa, Veracruz’s capital.
All of those arrested are members of the Veracruz state police, the navy said in a statement.
The 35 officers were taken to Mexico City and turned over to the organized-crime unit of the Attorney General’s Office.
Veracruz has been plagued by a turf war involving rival drug cartels that has sent the state’s murder rate skyrocketing over the past two years.
The conflict involves the Gulf, Los Zetas and Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartels, as well as breakaway members of the once-powerful La Familia Michoacana organization.
Los Zetas, which was founded by deserters from an elite military unit, began as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel before striking out on their own in 2010 and plunging into a bitter battle with their erstwhile employers.
The federal government launched “Operation Safe Veracruz” almost a year ago in an effort to curb gangland violence in the Gulf coast state, which is coveted as a key drug-trafficking corridor to the United States.
Last December, authorities shut down the police force responsible for law and order in Veracruz’s largest metropolitan area.
The department’s 900 uniformed officers and 100 administrative received severance and a chance to reapply for their jobs after undergoing a vetting process.
The Veracruz-Boca del Rio Intermunicipal Police served a metropolitan area of around 700,000 people.
State Gov. Javier Duarte shut down the municipal force to comply with the National Public Safety System’s requirement that each of Mexico’s 32 jurisdictions purge unfit cops and improve training for law enforcement agencies.
The state government also agreed to pay the costs of having the Mexican navy take charge of public safety in Veracruz-Boca del Rio.
Within days of taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon - whose term ends Nov, 30 - gave Mexico’s armed forces the leading role in the struggle with drug cartels, a policy that has been accompanied by intensifying violence and 60,000 deaths.
The military has replaced local police in several crime-plagued municipalities.
Mexican soldiers and marines also carry out mass arrests of police suspected of colluding with organized crime, but those dramatic, high-profile operations have led to few prosecutions.