Michoacan Plans to Place Military Men in Charge of Police

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As vigilante drama in violence-plagued Michoacan, Mexico continues, the state government has proposed placing former military commanders at the head of municipal police forces in a bid to improve local security.

Head of the State Public Security Council Armando Ballinas Mayes said 10 Michoacan mayors have already agreed to the measure, which could be trialed in two weeks. Among those in support of the idea are the municipalities of Los Reyes, Tepalcatepec, Tacambaro and Buenavista and others in the violent Tierra Caliente (Hot Country) region of the state, reported El Universal.

Ballinas noted that some municipal heads were against the proposal, as they “do not want to lose control of security in their municipalities,” while El Universal reported that interim Governor Jesus Reyna Garcia had also rejected the idea.

The announcement comes as ongoing drama with local vigilante forces continues to unfold. Authorities were forced to release 18 of the 45 community police detained a week earlier in Aquila, after running out of time to bring charges against them, reported Animal Politico.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Guerrero state, the head of the self defense forces in Olinala has been arrested after detaining the municipal official a week earlier, reported La Jornada.

InSight Crime Analysis

The latest proposal is not the first to militarize security in Michoacan this year. In response to the violence that has wracked the state, thousands of federal troops were deployed to the area in May and an army special forces commander was placed in charge of state security. Despite this, attacks continued in July, resulting in the deaths of numerous civilians and police.

These measures in Michoacan emphasize how President Enrique Peña Nieto’s pledges to pull back from the militarization of Mexico’s drug war have had little effect on the ground.

The situation is further complicated by the presence of the self-defense groups, which say they have formed because the security forces are corrupt or incapable of dealing with the threat posed by criminal groups such as the Knights Templar and Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG). The vigilantes have had a tense relationship with the authorities and they have taken both soldiers and police hostage on more than one occasion.

The military, which is generally more trusted than the police, could help ease relations with the vigilantes. However, it is just as likely that the increasing militarization of security will only lead to further friction.

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