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Veracruz Police Force Fired by Mexico Authorities
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In a surprising move, Mexico announced that it has disbanded the police force in the Gulf port city of Veracruz. The police force there had been infiltrated by criminal entities, most of which were from the deadly Zetas drug cartel. The information was released by an armed forces official on Thursday. The dismissal took place on Wednesday and included 800 officers and 300 administrative officials, which could take months to replace. The official had to remain unnamed for security reasons. The official also announced that 800 marines will patrol the city, which has a population of 700,000, until the police force is rebuilt.

According to Gina Dominguez, a spokesperson for Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte, the dismissal was needed to meet federal requirements to build new police forces under stricter standards. She went on to say that all of the dismissed employees can reapply for their jobs and that none of them were being investigated for corruption. Any and all applicants to the force will need to undergo a rigorous testing scheme and background checks.

  
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“The police force was created under previous administrations and the governor wanted to renovate the force with new police certified at a national level that elicit the confidence of citizens,” she said.

Duarte and federal interior secretary Alejandro Poire agreed to the dismissal on Monday. The president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, has promised to leave a secure police force when he vacates office in December of 2012. In an effort to remove corruption from the police forces of the country, Mexico has been vetting all of the country’s 460,000 police officers. Mexico federal authorities say that only 16 percent of the total police force in the country has been vetted, with only 8 percent of those passing the background checks and tests.

Calderon conceded that Veracruz had been handed over to the Zetas, with 14 percent of state police there being evaluated as of September. Six percent of municipal police had been evaluated there by the end of September. The number of police who passed those evaluations has not been released.

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Veracruz is the first state in the country to disband its entire police department and use marines as enforcers of the law. The state’s capital of Xalapa had already seen police disbandment by Duarte, with police being replaced by state agents.

The port has been a battleground for the Zetas and a gang working with the Sinaloa Cartel, which is led by Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman. Thirty-five bodies were dumped on a main highway during the month of September in the middle of rush hour, which was the low point of the war. One month after the body dump took place, authorities announced that 1,000 state police officers had been fired as a result of failing their tests.





 

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