Mexico Purges Officers Amid Stumbling Police Reform

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A total of 700 Mexico state police officers stationed in Michoacan will be fired or demoted after failing confidence tests, further illustrating the extent of corruption among public officials in the Pacific coastal state.

According to Michoacan Public Security Secretary Alberto Reyes Vaca, 132 of the officers have already been informed of their removal, and the other 568 will be notified in the coming days, reported CNN. Some officers may be demoted to the position of auxiliary police officer, rather than fired.

The decision coincides with a Milenio report detailing the amount that the Knights Templar organization, which is based in Michoacan, allegedly pays in bribes to Mexican officials each month. According to the report, which does not include any names, in one Michoacan city one federal police official receives around $26,500 each month from the group, one official from the Attorney General’s Office receives nearly $19,000, and one state police officer receives over $18,000.

InSight Crime Analysis

The potential removal or demotion of this number of Michoacan officers is significant in a country with around 120,000 state police (compared to around 335,000 federal and municipal police), and occurs amid a lengthy national police reform process that has been criticized for being largely ineffective.

Vigilante forces that have sprung up across the state have accused police in Michoacan of ties to the Knights Templar on various occasions, while members of the self-defense forces have in turn been accused by the state of ties to rival group, the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG). Police in Michoacan have also proved largely unable to cope with waves of violence that have hit the state this year, leading the central government to resort to the use of the army to restore order in the state in June.

SEE ALSO: Knights Templar News and Profile

The Milenio report comes a week after federal forces took control of the Knights Templar dominated port of Lazaro Cardenas, and fuels accusations of ties between criminal elements and Michoacan officials. Last week, the same newspaper reported that the group makes $73 million a year outside of international drug trafficking profits, with about $2 million a month attributed to extortion of local businesses and government officials.

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