More than 500 Federal Police (PF) officers conducting security operations in two states have been evicted from their hotels because their bills hadn’t been paid due to a budget shortfall.
A contingent of around 40 PF special forces agents found themselves out on the street in Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, late Thursday while around 500 officers on active duty in Guerrero suffered the same fate earlier this month.
Yet more officers deployed in the Michoacán cities of Apatzingán and Uruapan could also be left without anywhere to stay if their hotel rooms are not paid for by an extended deadline on Monday.
The National Security Commission (CNS), which is responsible for the federal forces, said through a prepared statement that the payments were not made because there are no budget funds available to do so.
“The increase in operational needs has exceeded original expenditure expectations and therefore payments for additional expenses depend on a budget increase . . .” the statement read.
The increased deployment of PF officers to bolster security in several regions across the country — sometimes for periods of months or even years — along with the associated accommodation, travel and meal expenses are believed to be responsible for the shortfall.
In Guerrero, the newspaper Reforma reported that while some high-ranking officers are afforded rooms, those of lower ranks now either sleep in tents or under tarps.
“This is a humiliation, a real shame for us as officers. People go past and see us and instead . . . of respect they look at us with pity, like beggars,” one officer told Reforma.
“Where’s the money . . . ?” he asked.
An investigation by Reforma found that the PF outsources both the arrangement and payment of accommodation and travel associated with its deployments to a private company called KolTov S.A de C.V.
However, when the general manager of a Guerrero hotel chain made a request to the company for it to settle debts stretching back eight months in relation to accommodation expenses for the 500 officers, no payments were forthcoming and the officers were consequently evicted. The same request detailing the extent of the debt was also extended to the PF.
In total, almost 40.5 million pesos (US $2.1 million) are owed to 14 different hotels in the state and the same company also reportedly ceased making payments to the Zirahuén Hotel in Lázaro Cardenas.
National Security Commissioner Renato Sales has announced that an assessment of all PF deployments is currently under way with a view to restructure its commitments to ensure that both security requirements and expenses are met, a position reiterated in the agency’s statement on its budgetary constraints.
The statement also highlighted that the overspending originates in states where the Federal Police has carried out additional deployments and said that more support was needed from state and local governments.
It isn’t the first time hotels have had to put up with late payments. The force had outstanding debts of 600 million pesos to 200 hotels two years ago.