Fearing Infiltration By Drug Cartels, Acapulco Police Were Disarmed By Federal Authorities

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The actions taken by the Acapulco, Mexico, police department have been quietly under investigation for some time now, particularly as related to certain activities connected to drug cartels. Acapulco has been mired in another wave of crime, violence, and possibly some heavy activity related to moving illegal drugs through the area. NPR reported that in light of many suspicious activities, and the belief that the police department has been corrupted by drug cartels to the point it is basically owned by them, federal authorities were called to intervene in an armed fashion.

A contingent of federal soldiers, marines, and state police descended on the Acapulco police department headquarters, seizing all firearms, both in the armory and carried by personnel, their bulletproof vests, and radios including other official forms of field communication gear. The move has been under consideration for some time. Tourism to the area has slipped significantly the past few years, and the Washington Post reported last year that Acapulco is the new “murder capital of Mexico.”

In addition to the move to secure the department’s gear, officials in Guerrero, the state where Acapulco is located, issued arrest warrants for two city police commanders accused of murder. There is talk that the entire force may be investigated, but that has not been satisfactorily substantiated as fact as of yet. In the meantime, a combination of authorities has taken over policing the area until a new police force can be vetted and assembled.

The U.S. Embassy reiterated that the entire state of Guerrero, not just Acapulco, is under a security alert. All U.S. citizens are strongly advised to avoid the area as “violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery is widespread.” Anyone in the area is encouraged to leave, and contact the embassy if they need help leaving the region.

Mayor Evodio Velázquez Aguirre said to The Mexico News that he and his office will be fully cooperating with any investigations and initiatives undertaken by federal authorities. NPR reported that AP has stated that the problem has been around a long time and that it is widespread.

“Local police in several parts of Mexico have been disbanded because they were corrupted by drug cartels. In Guerrero alone, local police have been disarmed in more than a dozen towns and cities since 2014, though none as large as Acapulco. In the northern state of Tamaulipas, one of the hardest hit by drug violence, almost all local police forces state-wide have been disbanded since 2011.”

There has been no timeline provided for how long local police authorities will be locked out of the jobs, and exactly what the makeup will be of the federal force that stays in place to protect the city.