13 federal police among 18 arrested in Mexico kidnapping probe

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DD
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13 federal police among 18 arrested in Mexico kidnapping probe

DD
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Mexican officials released photos of 18 suspects arrested in connection with a kidnapping ring in Acapulco. (Interior Secretary of Mexico, European Pressphoto Agency / October 8, 2013)

The arrests are linked to a ring operating in Acapulco, officials say, and probably will do little to improve the reputation of the federal force.


By Richard Fausset

October 8, 2013, 6:56 p.m.

MEXICO CITY — Thirteen Mexican federal police officers are among 18 people arrested last week on suspicion of being part of a deadly kidnapping ring operating in the troubled Pacific resort city of Acapulco, government officials said Tuesday.

The arrests on Wednesday and Friday probably will do little to improve the reputation of the federal police, an agency that former President Felipe Calderon, who left office in December, had hoped in vain to transform into Mexico's most trustworthy crime-fighting force.

Nor is the news likely to improve the reputation of Acapulco, where drug cartels and other criminal gangs have helped make the former playground of Hollywood royalty the city with highest homicide rate in Mexico.

The arrests come at a time when, according to federal government figures, kidnapping and extortion are on the rise across Mexico, even as the number of homicides is declining.

During a news conference Tuesday, Eduardo Sanchez Hernandez, the federal security spokesman, put a positive spin on the matter, saying that the arrests proved the resolve of President Enrique Peña Nieto's government to act with a "firm hand" against corrupt public servants. He said that 81 federal police officers had been arrested since Peña Nieto took office 10 months ago.

"The government of the republic does not tolerate, under any circumstances, acts of corruption committed by public servants," he said. "It's lamentable that among those who have the high honor of serving the citizenry, some commit acts of treachery against the citizens they have sworn to protect."

Sanchez said the group was responsible for at least seven homicides and four kidnappings. In two of the kidnappings, he said, the victims were slain. The investigation was sparked by a citizen complaint, he said, but he offered few other details about the crimes.

The civilian suspects, Sanchez said, were four men and one woman between the ages of 24 and 35. They included Luis Miguel Gonzalez Petatan, 31, whom police identified as the ringleader. The police officers were all men, and all in their 20s and 30s except for a 51-year-old officer.

Police corruption in Mexico is notoriously widespread, and public confidence in the police is dismally low. Beginning under Calderon, the federal government has sought to solve the problem by subjecting every current police officer and potential new hire to polygraph and drug tests, investigations of personal finances and psychological evaluations.

But the tests have come under fire for being poorly administered, leading to the dismissal of some good police officers and the retention of some bad ones.

In a TV interview Tuesday, Manuel Mondragon y Kalb, the federal security commissioner, said he was not sure whether the arrested officers were among the 90% of the force that has already been subjected to the testing. He also acknowledged that some of the testing had been flawed, and said he hoped that lawmakers would carry through on proposals to refine the system.

"I think that there will have to be some rethinking" of the testing, he said.

Even though Calderon lavished attention on the federal police, increasing salaries and hiring more college-educated officers, some of the force's more than 38,000 officers have been involved in a number of high-profile scandals. Fourteen federal officers remain imprisoned on charges that they opened fire on an American SUV with diplomatic plates on a country road south of Mexico City in August 2012, injuring two CIA officers. Five other officers suspected of involvement remain at large.

In June of that year, a group of federal officers trying to arrest another group suspected of cocaine trafficking engaged in a firefight in the middle of the busy Mexico City airport. Three of the responding officers were killed.

On Tuesday, Mondragon, in an effort to accentuate the positive, noted that it was the federal police, in cooperation with the organized-crime unit of the federal prosecutor's office, who carried out the investigation.

http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-mexico-kidnappers-20131009,0,1617714.story
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Re: 13 federal police among 18 arrested in Mexico kidnapping probe

buggs
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Major news!
Borderland Beat
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Re: 13 federal police among 18 arrested in Mexico kidnapping probe

1992dude
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What a surprise!!  Oh wait this is the federal police we're talking about. That's why I hold my sympathies when ever any PF, estatal, soldado and municipal is killed. What a freakin' joke.
DD
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Re: 13 federal police among 18 arrested in Mexico kidnapping probe

DD
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I agree with Buggs comment that this is Big News.  But the big news is not that the federal police officers were involved in kidnappings and homicides, but that they were arrested for it.  

As I reported earlier this week, a study by Mexico's National Statistics and Geography Institute reported that there were more than 105,000 kidnappings nationwide last year, but only about 1,300 of them were reported to authorities.

The 2 primary reasons for not reporting a kidnapping or most other crimes for that matter is (1) the citizenry doesn't believe it would do any good to report it because the authorities would do nothing, and (2) people fear that the police may be involved in the crime and if they report the crime, the victim or the victims family may suffer dire consequences.

Since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December, 81 federal police officers have been accused of committing crimes.  That is out of a federal police force of over 30,000 officers.  

That figure of 81 officers out of over 30,000 charged could be interpreted 2 ways.  It could mean that the federal police are mostly honest and the percentage of corrupt federal cops is very small.  Or, considering law enforcement's reputation of rampant corruption, it could mean that they haven't made a dent in removing the corrupt federal cops despite the fact that nearly 90% of them have now been "vetted".

In fairness, it is a very difficult problem to solve.  

In 2001, Vincente Fox created the  Federal Investigation Agency (AFI) as a replacement for an agency, the Federal Judicial Police, which was disbanded due to rampant corruption. The AFI was patterned after the FBI and was structured to block corruption from other agencies. Despite those safeguards, by late 2005 the Mexican Attorney General's Office reported that almost 1,500 of the AFI's 7,000 agents were under investigation for suspected criminal activity and that 457 agents faced criminal charges.

Mexico's experience with AFI, which was disbanded by Calderon in 2008 because of corruption in it's ranks, demonstrates that even a competent, well-paid and well-equipped police institution cannot stand alone in a culture unprepared to support it and help maintain its integrity. Over time an institution will take on the characteristics of the society surrounding it.


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Re: 13 federal police among 18 arrested in Mexico kidnapping probe

Pinchegringo
DD wrote
I agree with Buggs comment that this is Big News.  But the big news is not that the federal police officers were involved in kidnappings and homicides, but that they were arrested for it.  

That figure of 81 officers out of over 30,000 charged could be interpreted 2 ways.  It could mean that the federal police are mostly honest and the percentage of corrupt federal cops is very small.  Or, considering law enforcement's reputation of rampant corruption, it could mean that they haven't made a dent in removing the corrupt federal cops despite the fact that nearly 90% of them have now been "vetted".
DD - any info on which kidnappings they were involved in?  You and I may not always see eye to eye on things, but I can always be guaranteed to get a quality/informative post from you.

DD
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Re: 13 federal police among 18 arrested in Mexico kidnapping probe

DD
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Pinche.  I went back to several newspapers that carried the story and couldn't find any updates with details on the crimes.  That leads me to believe that they were not high profile cases or the Federales would have wanted the favorable publicity of solving the case.  

The fact that the investigation was prompted by a citizens complaint may make it  a more interesting case.  We'll just have to wait and see.

As to us not agreeing on everything, there is an old saying that if in a partnership the 2 partners always agree on everything, one of them is not needed.  I know we are not in a partnership, but the same rationale applies.  Differences of opinion often leads to healthy debate.  
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Re: 13 federal police among 18 arrested in Mexico kidnapping probe

nacho
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