Entire Acapulco Police Force Seized
On Tuesday, Mexico’s federal and state authorities seized, disarmed, and initiated an investigation into the entire police force of Acapulco, a resort town in Guerrero.
The state government said that it took the necessary steps to seize the police force "because of suspicion that the force had probably been infiltrated by criminal groups" and "the complete inaction of the municipal police in fighting the crime wave."
Officials in Guerrero arrested two police commanders accusing them of homicide. According to CNN, the officers were quickly moved to prisons outside of Acapulco in order to ensure their protection. The Associated Press reports the remaining officers “were stripped of their guns, radios and bullet-proof vests and taken for background checks.”
State officials say Acapulco will continue to operate as a normal tourist hub; however all law enforcement duties are being taken over by soldiers, marines, and state police. Due to the joint operation conducted by the Guerrero Coordination Group - which includes the National Secretary of Defense, the marines, federal police, the state prosecutor's office, and state police - the US government reissued a travel alert advising citizens not to travel to the state of Guerrero. The US government noted "violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread."
The Guerrero group’s spokesman Robert Álvarez Heredia said, “The rest of the municipal police officers will be investigated and subjected to exams of confidence control."
The takeover of Acapulco comes as a new municipal administration takes power on Oct. 1.
Guerrero is considered one of the most dangerous regions in Mexico, home to multiple criminal gangs involved in the production of heroin. Last year, Acapulco had one of the highest homicide rates in the world with 103 per 100,000 inhabitants. In an article published last year, The Washington Post described Acapulco, once a ritzy tourist central, as "Mexico's murder capital.”
Mexico News Daily reports that the municipal government of Acapulco, led by Mayor Evodio Velázquez Aguirre, was fully cooperating with investigators.
According to The Washington Post "When Mayor Evodio Velazquez Aguirre took office in October 2015, he said, the municipal police force was 'totally out of control.' "
“Half the 1,500 officers had failed federal vetting and background checks. The police had spent much of 2014 on strike to protest salaries and benefits, leaving state and federal forces in charge.”
In an interview with the post, the mayor said “Acapulco is on its feet.” However in 2016, Acapulco had the most murders of any Mexican city for the fifth year in a row.
In Guerrero alone, police have been disbanded in dozens of cities since 2014; however no disbandment was as large as the Acapulco one.