An elite group of former Federal Police (PF) officers has infiltrated municipal police forces in Guanajuato to detect and clean out corrupt cops with links to narcos, according to state authorities.
About 150 “criminals in uniforms” — municipal police officers with links to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel — have so far been dismissed as a result of the elite group’s work, said Sophia Huett, executive secretary of the Guanajuato public security system.
According to a Milenio newspaper report, the state government requested federal approval to create the elite group in order to break the control exerted by the corrupt cops in Guanajuato, which has been Mexico’s most violent state in recent years. Formed just over a year ago, it is made up of some 30 former PF officers who previously attended training courses offered by the FBI and DEA in the United States, the National Police of Colombia and anti-gang authorities in El Salvador.
The mission of the ex-federal cops — now members of the National Guard, which superseded the PF — is to purge municipal forces of criminal cops and help reduce violence to a point where Guanajuato is no longer the country’s most murderous entity. Members of the elite force who spoke with Milenio said that corrupt municipal police provide information to organized crime groups and thwart operations against them, among other collusive conduct.
One former PF member said that several municipal police in Celaya — the first municipality where a force was infiltrated — were “uniformed criminals.”
He said that some of the corrupt cops were caught committing illegal acts and turned over to the relevant authorities.
In addition to corruption in police forces in Celaya and nearby municipalities such as Apaseo el Grande and Apaseo el Alto, the elite group has also detected that local cops lack training and equipment. An ex-federal cop said that municipal forces were practically laughing stocks.
“A municipal colleague said, ‘I joined out of necessity, to have a job, we were novices in police matters, they gave us a baton and that was our work tool,’” he said. “… Now we have to work intelligently because we’re talking about organized crime,” he added.
Jesús Ignacio Rivera Peralta, a 26-year veteran of the PF who now heads up the Celaya police force and has collaborated closely with the elite group, said that some crimes have declined since the ex-PF cops arrived.
“It was said last year that Celaya was the most dangerous city in Mexico and statistically the city where the highest number of municipal police were killed due to crime; today we’re no longer in those positions,” he said.
Rivera, who became police chief late last year, told Milenio that over 200 municipal police in Celaya have been dismissed for a range of reasons, allowing him to have greater control over the force. However, he didn’t specify how many were fired as a result of the elite group’s detection of corrupt conduct.
Huett, the state security official, said that members of the elite group were formerly deployed on special operations in notoriously violent states such as Guerrero, Michoacán, Tamaulipas and Chihuahua. During their deployments, the then-Federal Police officers learned that they couldn’t guarantee security if state and municipal cops weren’t doing their job, she said.
The elite group now working in Guanajuato “generates information that allows … the actions of criminal groups to be detected,” she explained.
“And when you follow the lines of investigation, they take you to more criminals or criminals that were in police forces at some stage or worse still, active [police force] members,” Huett said. “The principal objective of this group is to uncover criminals, wherever they may be.”
It’s not enough to just dismiss criminal cops, the security official added, asserting that officers who “betrayed a commitment or rather disguised themselves as police” should go to jail. “… He who betrays the vocation [must] pay the consequences,” Huett said.
With reports from Milenio