Friday, December 1, 2023

Zacatecas in midst of ‘grave security crisis,’ governor warns

The governor of Zacatecas has made an impassioned plea for federal government support amid a “grave security crisis” in the northern state.

In a letter to President López Obrador, Alejandro Tello said that state and municipal security forces are outnumbered and outgunned by criminal groups operating in the state.

“With opposing organized crime groups as the protagonists, the fierce fight for the control of territory has placed our state in a grave security crisis,” the governor wrote.

“… Mr. President, we need your total support, your real commitment to this state. The residents of Zacatecas respect you and we believe that together we can overcome [the situation]. Please don’t leave us on our own.”

Tello, an Institutional Revolutionary Party governor in the final year of his five-year term, said that settlings of scores, homicides, armed clashes with collateral damage, abductions and extortion plague Zacatecas and have overwhelmed local police.

After nine people were murdered and three others were kidnapped in Fresnillo on a single day last month, Mayor Saúl Monreal Ávila said “the municipality has been overtaken” by organized crime.

Tello acknowledged that many municipalities have a very limited capacity to combat violent crime but state police and the municipal force in Zacatecas city are also overrun.

“The strength of police reaction in the face of the … paltry number of officers in municipal police forces has practically been left in the hands of the state, metropolitan and ministerial police but that isn’t enough,” he wrote.

Homicide statistics back up the governor’s claim about the gravity of the situation: Zacatecas leads the country in 2021 for homicides on a per capita basis, with 6.44 per 100,000 residents so far this year.

It finished last year with 47.35 homicides per 100,000 residents, the fifth highest rate in the country after Baja California, Colima, Chihuahua and Guanajuato.

Tello said the federal government has a responsibility to help because federal crimes are being committed.

He said that 90% of homicides are related to drug cartel activity and criminal organizations are becoming stronger, larger, better equipped and more violent by the day.

The Zetas, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel are among the criminal groups that operate in the state.

The state government said last year that Zacatecas had become a nexus for the trafficking of fentanyl and other illicit drugs due to its location between Pacific coast ports such as Manzanillo and Colima and the northeastern border with the United States.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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