MEXICO CITY – About 130 police officers in Acambaro, or about half of the Mexican city’s force, were arrested by the Federal Police for allegedly having ties to drug traffickers, municipal officials said.
“They arrested around 130 police officers (on Tuesday), the security forces locked them up in the bases here and left the city without police officers,” Acambaro municipal spokeswoman Linette Rubio said.
“The argument being made by the Attorney General’s Office is that they are cleaning up the police departments, but, regrettably, their method for doing so is to arrest all of the city’s police officers,” Rubio said.
Acambaro still has 120 officers who were not arrested and continue on duty.
Guanajuato state police officers, backed by helicopters, took control Tuesday of the city, located in the southern part of the state, near the border with Michoacan state.
Guanajuato is governed by the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, while Acambaro’s city hall, under Mayor Gerardo Silva Campos, is in the hands of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD.
“They have released some of the public officials little by little, so we do not have a count of how many are free and how many are not. We don’t know,” the municipal spokeswoman said.
“Acambaro is one of the 10 safest cities in Guanajuato ... There is really no crime problem, there is organized crime because we are very close to Michoacan, but we think what happened is really unnecessary,” Rubio said.
Officials in Acambaro, a city of about 150,000, have never opposed the checks used to root out crooked police officers, but they consider the way it was done “very dramatic,” the municipal spokeswoman said.
City officials received the results of checks on police officers two weeks ago and “of the 180 or 200 officers examined, just two people came up negative,” Rubio said.
“It’s just one factor in making a decision. The law does not say you have to automatically dismiss the ones who do not do well on the tests,” the municipal spokeswoman said.
The Guanajuato state police has temporarily taken control of police operations in Acambaro, but city officials have not been told how long this will last.
Authorities arrested 23 police officers on April 29 in the neighboring city of Tarandacuao for allegedly having links to the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel, considered Mexico’s largest trafficker of synthetic drugs.