In a sign of its increasingly militarized public security strategy, the Mexican military is training state police in tactics and the use of military-grade weaponry.
According to a Mexican Ministry of Defense (SEDENA) report cited by Milenio, the Mexican army provided weapons training to state police in Hidalgo in order to prepare them for armed confrontations with drug cartels. The training is part of a larger nationwide program intended to better equip state police forces.
The document shows that more than 250 police were trained in the use of automatic and sub-automatic rifles, and were given some basic tactical instruction. The training occurred in two sessions this year, lasting from January to May.
The Milenio investigation also found that, from 2006 to 2011, the Hidalgo government ordered nearly $3 million in weaponry through SEDENA, including submachine guns and Galil model rifles.
InSight Crime Analysis
The military’s involvement in Mexico’s internal security is a controversial subject. While the military is believed to be less prone to criminal influence than police in the country, human rights advocates in the country worry that involving the military in policing can lead to abuses and may even contribute to violence in some cases.
However, state and local police forces are often ill-equipped to confront foot soldiers of the powerful drug cartels in the country, which have easy access to AR-15 and AK-47 variant rifles, submachine guns and hand grenades on the black market.
One problem with arming police officers, however, is the matter of whether these guns will actually stay in their possession. As InSight Crime has reported, Mexican state police have proven highly susceptible to corruption despite recent reform attempts. In September, for instance, the Mexican Navy arrested 35 state police in Veracruz for links to the Zetas.