Mexican Police Caught Kidnapping in Video

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A hotel security video caught Jalisco police officers assisting in a kidnapping, highlighting the depth of corruption in Mexico’s security forces.

In January 2012, several Jalisco police officers were caught on security footage assisting gunmen in a kidnapping. The bodies of the kidnapping victims were found shortly afterwards, bearing evidence of torture.

According to the AP, a spokesperson for the Jalisco attorney general’s office said the victims had been arrested earlier in the day for a minor infraction. During their detention by police, they reportedly claimed they were connected to the Zetas cartel, perhaps in an attempt to get out of charges. Instead, it is believed that someone in the jail passed on the information to a rival cartel, who presumably deployed several municipal police officers to kidnap the victims.

However, it is not yet clear whether the victims were actually members of a cartel, or whether they simply pretended to be, in order to pressure police into releasing them. The state prosecutor’s office later denied that the men were criminals, identifying the victims as lawyer Cesar Alcala, legal assistant Jorge Arredondo, and contruction worker Jorge Bustos.

On the video, the accompanying gunmen appear to be directing the police, who provide the authority necessary to ensure the hotel staff’s quiet cooperation. The gunmen are believed to be members of the New Generation cartel, based in Jalisco.

Although the incident took place in January, and the faces of several of the participants were caught on camera, Jalisco police did not detain the suspected officers until June 6. The spokesperson for the Jalisco state prosecutor said that seven members of the police force have been detained so far; however, none have yet to be charged. The spokesperson said that the delay was due to the state police’s difficulty in obtaining the tapes, adding, “We didn’t have the information.”

InSight Crime Analysis

Mexico has widespread problems with corruption, especially in its security forces. The World Justice Project’s 2011 Rule of Law Index ranks Mexico 53rd out of 66 nations for its high level of state corruption.

The depth of corruption and violence in the country forces many police officers to chose between “plata o plomo”: money from bribes or a bullet from displeased cartel recruiters.

In Jalisco, the situation is particularly bad. In May 2012, an unidentified cartel attempted to recruit hundreds of purged police through an online advertisement. At the time, around 900 police had been fired for failing to meet the standards of the state’s new security vetting program.

The Jalisco police’s involvement in the kidnapping highlights the level of corruption in the state. However, the six-month delay in the investigation is also cause for alarm, and casts further doubt on the ability of police to conduct internal probes into alleged misconduct.

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