The federal government announced today that it will bolster security forces in response to a wave of violence in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz.
This week will see the beginning of a six-year deployment of 450 elements of the navy, army and Federal Police in the troubled port city as part of a larger initiative by the federal government to go after organized crime in several key regions.
The news comes on the heels of the abduction of local businesswoman Susana Carrera, who was murdered after her family was unable to pay a ransom demand. According to the Coatzacoalcos Citizens’ Observatory, there were 49 kidnappings and 160 homicides in Coatzacoalcos last year.
Last Saturday, residents took to the streets to demand peace and concrete action from Mayor Víctor Manuel Carranza, who citizens say has done little to combat violence in the city.
Veracruz Security Secretary Hugo Gutiérrez Maldonado told reporters yesterday that most of Coatzacoalcos’s problems are due to a territorial dispute between two criminal bands fighting for control of the city.
Commenting on the federal strategy, security undersecretary Leonel Efraín Cota said that Coatzacoalcos had not previously been a priority in the administration’s security strategy because the municipality did not publish daily security updates, but that “that has been corrected.”
The undersecretary explained that the current plan is a departure from previous operations in terms of the sheer numbers of police to be deployed, which he said will finally comprise a sufficiently large force to make a dent in criminal activity.
He added that the force will be under the command of the navy secretary until the creation of the new national guard, which will then assume command. It will also answer to a security council composed of the mayor, the state government and federal authorities, and will remain in Coatzacoalcos for the remainder of President López Obrador’s six-year term.
Cota assured the public that the newly created police force will operate on their behalf.
“Our objective is public security, there will be no surprise or flash operations; we’re here to resolve the problem of insecurity in the southern region [of Mexico].”
He said the government has already installed several mobile security centers for the new force around the city and that the operation’s effectiveness will be evaluated every two months.