The mayor of Salamanca, Guanajuato, has hired a private security company to bolster the city’s law enforcement capabilities amid an upsurge in violent crime.
The private security guards are carrying out similar duties to those of police including patrols of Salamanca’s streets and parks, but they are not armed.
State Governor Miguel Márquez said the state’s police force is unable to assign more officers to Salamanca due to security commitments in other areas.
However, he added that the Federal Police and the army have sent more personnel to the city, affirming that state police “have not been left alone.”
Márquez also said that between 250 and 300 new officers will soon graduate from the state’s policy academy.
Salamanca, located about 70 kilometers south of the capital, and several other Guanajuato municipalities are currently under state police control as part of the mando único (single command) security strategy.
The governor said that municipal authorities informed him that the private guards have been employed to work in close proximity with Salamanca residents. The guards must have passed confidence tests and the firm that employs them must have state authorization, he said.
Meanwhile, 10 Salamanca traffic police resigned this week following the murder of six of their colleagues in the city last Friday.
Interim Salamanca Mayor José Miguel Fuentes Serrato told the newspaper El Universal that the officers quit for personal reasons and that none of them had indicated that fear was a factor in their decision.
He also said the city’s traffic police will now be accompanied by state or federal security forces as they carry out their duties.
Attorney General Carlos Zamarripa Aguirre said Saturday that there was no evidence that the slain officers had been involved in any criminal activity and described their conduct as “irreproachable.” He also pledged to hold those responsible for their deaths to account.
Violence in Guanajuato has spiked significantly this year. National Public Security System statistics released last month showed there were 1,004 homicides in the first quarter.
Many of those are believed to be connected to the crime of petroleum theft, including deaths resulting from confrontations between rival gangs of fuel thieves known as huachicoleros.
Pemex personnel who work at the Salamanca refinery are also alleged to have been involved in fuel theft and came under investigation for the crime last month.
Source: El Universal (sp)