Violence in Zacatecas has left eight municipalities with few or no police officers.
Five of them – Monte Escobedo, Tepetongo, Apulco, Cañitas de Felipe Pescador and El Salvador – have no police at all, according to the newspaper El Universal.
Officers abandoned their jobs due to high levels of violence in the northern state, where criminal groups including the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel operate.
Alejandro Arce Pantoja, a security official in Monte Escobedo, said the municipality has had no officers for 11 months. The municipal police chief, who previously led a force with eight members, was murdered at the start of the year, while the former mayor fled Monte Escobedo in May after receiving threats from organized crime.
Arce said the new municipal government wants to reestablish a police force but can’t find anyone interested in joining.
“… Being a municipal police officer is not attractive to people,” he said.
A detachment of state police is currently in charge of public security in Monte Escobedo, located in southwestern Zacatecas on the border with Jalisco.
In Cuauhtémoc, where 10 bodies were left hanging from an overpass on Thursday, the six municipal police officers didn’t report to work after hearing of the grisly discovery, said Mayor Francisco Javier Arcos Ruiz. He said that one had quit and the other five asked to go on leave.
Arcos told El Universal that when he was told that the officers hadn’t shown up for work on Thursday morning, he went to the highway overpass to attend to the crime scene himself. He also said that he patrolled the streets of Cuauhtémoc with Civil Protection personnel on Thursday.
In Loreto, which like Cuauhtémoc is located in the southeast of Zacatecas on the border with Aguascalientes, officers haven’t shown up for work this week. The municipality’s police chief and two officers were abducted by armed civilians last week. All three were found dead on Monday in Asientos, Aguascalientes.
In Villa Hidalgo, also in the southeast of Zacatecas but on the border with San Luis Potosí, several municipal police force officers recently resigned due to threats from organized crime. The police station, which was attacked earlier this month, closed last week due to lack of personnel.
Officers in Zacatecas have good reason to fear for their lives. Thirty-five police have been murdered in the state this year, eight more than in all of 2020.
With reports from El Universal