Eight Querétaro municipal police officers have been arrested on charges of robbery, extortion, home burglary and abuse of authority, the state attorney general said yesterday.
Alejandro Echeverría Cornejo said the first crime the on-duty officers committed was to accost and force two people into a police vehicle in the Santa Rosa Jáuregi borough of the state capital and steal their mobile telephones and 5,000 pesos (US $250) in cash.
The officers then sought to extort an additional 20,000 pesos (US $1,002) from their victims in exchange for letting them go, before they were finally abandoned in an unpopulated area of the city.
Shortly after, the same officers accosted another person in the same area and violently forced him into a police vehicle.
The officers and their third victim then travelled to the latter’s home, from which the police stole a safe-deposit box containing US $4,800 in cash along with other items of value.
Based on a range of evidence, the Querétaro Attorney General’s office (FGE) was able to confirm that the crimes had been committed and consequently obtained arrest warrants for the accused that were executed yesterday, the same day they were issued.
Judicial authorities also issued search warrants for the homes of the accused officers, which resulted in the seizure of further incriminating evidence including live firearm cartridges and drugs.
The FGE said the eight officers would first face a preliminary hearing when it would seek a court order directing the accused to stand trial.
The agency emphasized that under no circumstances would it allow those responsible for upholding security to violate that duty.
The Querétaro municipal Secretariat of Public Security (SSPMQ) also said there would be zero tolerance of any police conduct that contravenes compliance with their established duties and that it had cooperated closely with the FGE by providing it with all the information it requested.
That cooperation, it said, is in accordance with measures announced by Querétaro Governor Francisco Domínguez which stipulate that all members of the state’s security council — to which the Querétaro mayor belongs — must faithfully serve the state and its institutions.
The SSPMQ also said that if a review of its police force aimed at purging criminal and corrupt officers is deemed necessary, it will carry out the measure.
Source: El Universal (sp)