Police with links to organized crime detained in Guerrero

Close to 70 percent of the 18,000 municipal police who failed vetting tests in Mexico are concentrated in ten states, underscoring the weakness and vulnerability to corruption of local security forces in areas that are also hubs for organized crime.

According to a report from the Secretary General of National Public Safety (SESNSP), over 18,000 of the 135,511 municipal police subjected to vetting tests nationwide failed to pass. Sixty-seven percent of these police officers were concentrated in ten states, with Veracruz, Baja California Sur, and Sinaloa home to municipal police forces where over 60 percent of the officers did not meet basic standards, reported El Universal.

The numbers were equally high for state police forces, with 20,521 state police officers failing to pass vetting tests, according to a report by the civil society organization Causa en Comun. In total, including federal police, 42,214 police officers were deemed unfit for service. According to the report, 17 states have yet to dismiss the police who failed vetting tests.  

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Troublingly, at least half of the states where the municipal police who failed vetting tests are concentrated are also hotspots for organized crime. In Veracruz, for example, where 77 percent of municipal police failed, the Zetas and the "Zetas Killers," a splinter group of the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation, both have a significant presence. The state of Guerrero -- where 1,315 municipal police failed vetting tests -- recently saw the disappearance of 43 student protesters, a crime that was allegedly carried out by corrupt police colluding with the Guerreros Unidos criminal group.   

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Low salaries and a lack of education are likely factors that contribute to the vulnerability of municipal police forces to corruption. According to data from Mexico's National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) cited by El Universal, 78 percent of the country's municipal police make less than $727 a month, which could make them more likely to accept bribes. Three of the states home to large numbers of low-paid municipal police -- Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Jalisco -- are also among the ten states where police who failed to pass vetting tests are concentrated. Similarly, according to INEGI data from 2013, over 12 percent of municipal police had completed primary school or less, with Oaxaca and Michoacan among the states with the highest numbers of uneducated police.