Tuesday, December 5, 2023

As crime has risen, key security officials have held office for years

Homicide numbers in Guanajuato — the highest in the country — have been on the rise since 2009, government figures show, the same year that Attorney General Carlos Zamarripa Aguirre took office, where he is due to remain until 2028.

An additional spike in the state’s murder rate occurred in 2012 when Álvar Cabeza de Vaca became Guanajuato’s Minister of Public Security. 

Both men have been criticized for failing to reduce violence in the state.

Whereas before either man took office, homicides hovered at around 31 per month, they nearly doubled to 60 per month in 2009, 100 per month from 2012 to 2018, and recently have soared to more than 150 per month. There were 308 murders reported in January alone, bringing this year’s total to 2,400.

Five more were added Thursday when that many police officers died in an ambush on the Apaseo el Alto-Jerécuaro highway, bringing the total to 56 police officers killed in 2020.

Nine out of 10 homicides committed in the state are never solved, and about 20% of all murders committed in Mexico occur in Guanajuato. 

“The state’s capacity to prevent and contain violence and crime is insufficient and the quality of the investigations is poor. At the local level there are no plans or coordination strategy with the municipalities, while the federal government, for its part, is absent,” said Juan Alcántara Soria, a former attorney general.

“The Guanajuato prosecutor’s office has invested many resources in real estate and tactical equipment, but not enough attention has been given to the quantitative and qualitative growth of personnel,” Alcántara Soria added.

Various citizens groups have strongly criticized the fact that the same officials have been allowed to remain in office for so long. There were calls in February demanding Zamarripa and Cabeza de Vaca resign. 

“This pair of officials has left a trail of destruction and death in the state,” said Saúl Arellano Almanza, a researcher at the Autonomous University of México. He called Zamarripa and Cabeza de Vaca “totally remiss in the fulfillment of their duty and responsibility, which today has the state bathed in blood.”

In late June, President López Obrador criticized the long period that Zamarripa has been in office, describing the length of his tenure “atypical” and calling for a change.

Last Tuesday, federal Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero announced his office would investigate Zamarripa in connection with an operation June 20 against the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel. Gertz called the arrest of the cartel leader’s mother and other family members a setup.

Source: Reforma (sp), Animal Político (sp), Zona Franca (sp)

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