Veracruz, Mexico – Mexican army troops and Veracruz state police completely dismantled the municipal police department in Tierra Blanca, a city of 95,000, due to allegations that nearly 100 officers were involved in criminal wrongdoing, state officials said.
Tierra Blanca officers are believed to have been involved in kidnappings and extortion, among other crimes, the Veracruz state Attorney General’s Office said.
Soldiers, Public Safety Secretariat personnel and Veracruz Investigations Agency, or AVI, agents disarmed and detained 98 officers in Tierra Blanca, located about 380 kilometers (236 miles) southeast of Xalapa, the state capital.
Of the 98 officers arrested, 44 were released almost immediately, but without their weapons, due to lack of evidence that they committed crimes, Veracruz Attorney General Salvador Mikel Rivera told Efe.
Only 13 of the officers will be charged, the AG said.
“They are the ones about whom there are the most indications to make us think that they participated in these incidents. We are going to finish the preliminary investigation, but at this time they will be held,” Rivera said.
Public Safety Secretariat personnel are now responsible for security in the city.
The operation was launched as part of an effort to clean up police agencies in the Gulf state, Veracruz Gov. Fidel Herrera Beltran said.
“We have acted very carefully, rigorously and to provide an example, and we will continue to do so because Veracruz is committed to having honest police officers,” the governor said.