May 23rd, Police officers in a small town that is a favorite for American Expats, were surprised when they were raided by Federal Officers. The raid resulted in the detention of the entire local police force. Last Tuesday’s bust was conducted by state and federal police, along with the Marine Corps. The officers were acting on mounting evidence of corruption in that precinct. Following the raid, all 246 officers and officials were detained until they could provide official credentials.
When the dust had settled, Federal agents arrested 51 of the men including three high ranking officers, but later 31 of those were released being charged with “operating without full police accreditation”. The remaining 20 men were charged with “having ties to organized crime” and “impersonation of public officials.”
Zihuatanejo’s Public Security Chief, Carlos Cruz, told media: “Many of them are real police officers, but who we believe have strong ties to organized crime in the region. The cartels are very powerful in the state of Guerrero, and we are working to purge our public bodies of links to drug trafficking.”
Following the raid, the entire force has been placed on suspension and leaving the state police and Mexican military to patrol the streets. One American, who is originally from Ohio told Fox News, “It was a shock,” said David Claassen. “We had no idea this was going on, as Zihuatanejo is such a peaceful and friendly place.” Claassen has lived in Mexico for the past three years
The town’s mayor Gustavo Garcia and the Municipal Police Chief David Nogueda both refused comment on the raid. But sources close to the government said it is only a matter of time before the Municipal Police force is disbanded and control of Zihuatanejo is handed over to state authorities. “The municipal police will cease to exist once this scandal dies down,” said one magistrate who declined to be identified. “They are extremely corrupt and have only made organized crime worse in Zihua.”
One magistrate, who’s court is in the police station says he witnessed the coruption on a daily basis. He stated he had to change his phone number once a month to avoid threatening calls from local gangsters. “Whenever a narco was brought to me after being arrested, I would receive a call from the street boss demanding his immediate release. I had to comply because they know where my family lives and would threaten me terribly.”
“I would fine the gangster $25 for his arrest, but the money would be collected by my bosses here in the precinct and never arrive where it should have,” he told Fox News. “There’s nothing anyone can do, because if you speak out against the corruption, your life is in danger.”
Things were so bad in the town that one narco masquerading as a police officer, known as ‘El Cadete’ (The Cadet), had been recruited into the municipal police force just 20 days before the raid. But sources said he was already known to officers because he had been arrested numerous times in possession of illegal firearms, a felony which usually carries a minimum 10-year prison sentence in Mexico.