Federal and state police and the military have taken over policing duties in Acapulco, Guerrero, after the entire municipal force was disarmed today due to suspected infiltration by criminal gangs.
The city’s police chief, Max Sedano Román, and five municipal police commanders were also detained in the navy operation that took place about 11:00am. All are suspected of having links to organized crime.
State security spokesman Roberto Álvarez Heredia said that arrest warrants against two commanders, Luis Fernando N. and Brayan Antonio N., were executed “for their probable responsibility in the crime of homicide.”
He added that all municipal officers will be evaluated and subjected to confidence tests. Their weapons, ammunition, bulletproof vests and radios were seized by state authorities.
The Guerrero government said in a statement that it took the step “because of suspicion that the force had probably been infiltrated by criminal groups” and “the complete inaction of the municipal police in fighting the crime wave.”
The municipal government, headed by Mayor Evodio Velázquez Aguirre, said in a statement that it is prepared to fully cooperate with investigations.
The federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) and its Guerrero counterpart, the FGE, will both conduct investigations into the suspected infiltration.
The news triggered an updated travel warning this afternoon from the United States embassy in Mexico City. It reminded U.S. citizens against traveling to Guerrero due to high crime levels.
Acapulco had a homicide rate of 103 per 100,000 inhabitants last year, one of the highest rates in Mexico and the world, the Associated Press reported.
The Washington Post last August described the resort city as Mexico’s murder capital.
Since 2014, municipal police have been disarmed in more than a dozen towns and cities in Guerrero, including state capital Chilpancingo’s force in January on suspicion of being involved in the kidnapping of three teenagers and killing two of them.
Last year, up to 45 “fake” cops who had infiltrated the municipal police force of Zihuatanejo were arrested.
Municipal forces in other states have also been disarmed and disbanded after collusion with and/or infiltration of organized crime was detected.
With poor pay and often limited training, municipal police can be easy targets for criminal groups, who offer financial incentives in exchange for cooperating with them and sometimes threaten to kill them if they don’t.