Monterrey, Nuevo Leon - Soldiers and Mexican Federal Police officers took control of the police department in Guadalupe, a city in the Monterrey metropolitan area, as part of a “reorganization and cleansing” operation, and arrested 12 state and municipal officers, officials said.
Federal officials have identified police corruption as one of the main obstacles in fighting the drug cartels operating in Mexico, which has some 400,000 municipal, state and federal police officers.
The federal government has launched investigations of police departments across Mexico in an effort to root out crooked officers.
Six Guadalupe police department officers, including the commander of the K-9 unit, were arrested in one operation.
Marines detained six Nuevo Leon state police officers in a separate raid.
Monterrey is the capital of the border state of Nuevo Leon, where drug traffickers have been battling for months to gain control of smuggling routes into the United States.
“The actions were taken by the state government to bring about the permanent reorganization and cleansing of the state and municipal agencies,” the Nuevo Leon state government said in a statement.
“We are working in a coordinated fashion, with both the Mexican navy and the army, carrying out operations to cleanse police agencies, on the one hand, but to also obtain information that will allow us to strike with precision against criminals,” Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina said.
Nuevo Leon and neighboring Tamaulipas state have been rocked by a wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers battling for control of smuggling routes into the United States.
The violence has intensified in the two border states since the appearance in Monterrey in February of giant banners heralding an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia drug cartels against Los Zetas, a band of Mexican special forces deserters turned hired guns.
After several years as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.
The cartels arrayed against Los Zetas blame the group’s involvement in kidnappings, armed robbery and extortion for discrediting “true drug traffickers” in the eyes of ordinary Mexicans willing to tolerate the illicit trade as long as the gangs stuck to their own unwritten rule against harming innocents.
More than 120 people have been murdered in Nuevo Leon, home to some of Mexico’s largest industrial corporations, since February.