Members of an elite unit of Mexican police in the state of Guanajuato are being targeted, tortured, and killed in their homes by one of the country’s dominant drug and human smuggling cartels, according to a new report.
The Jalisco cartel, which has a history of extreme violence, recently kidnapped members of the elite unit and then tortured them until they gave up names and addresses of their fellow officers, The Associated Press reported Sunday. Since then, the report said, cartel hitmen have been “hunting down and killing” the officers “at their homes, on their days off, in front of their families.”
The brazen attacks are not common in Mexico and are instead more prevalent in gang-dominated Central American countries, the AP noted, adding that they present a direct threat to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s “hugs, not bullets” policy of refraining from waging war on cartels.
That said, the cartels appear to have made the choice for “AMLO,” as he is known, and are declaring war on specific police units including the elite state force that is known as the Tactical Group. Jalisco cartel bosses claim that the unit has unfairly treated its members.
Guanajuato is Mexico’s most violent state; the Jalisco cartel mostly expends its energy fighting rival gangs supported by the Sinaloa cartel. State officials would not tell the AP how many of its elite police unit members have been targeted and murdered thus far. However, officials did publicly acknowledge the most recent killing of an officer taken from his home last week. His body was dumped along the side of a highway, the report noted.
David Saucedo, a security analyst who is based in Guanajuato, told the AP there have been several instances of officers kidnapped then murdered.
“A lot of them (officers) have decided to desert. They took their families, abandoned their homes and they are fleeing and in hiding,” Saucedo told the newswire. “The CJNG is hunting the elite police force of Guanajuato.”
While it is difficult to estimate the number of police victims thus far, a news cooperative in the restive state called Poplab reported recently that seven of the elite officers have been killed on days off this year. The cooperative reported that in January, cartel gunmen went to the home of a female state police officer, murdered her husband, then tortured her before dumping her body after she had been shot several times.
“Guanajuato has had the highest number of police killed of any Mexican state since at least 2018, according to Poplab,” the AP reported, adding that between 2018 and mid-May of this year, 262 officers were killed — an average of some 75 officers annually.
To put the number in perspective, the AP added that more Guanajuato officers “are killed by gunfire or other assaults on average each year in the entire United States, which has 50 times Guanajuato’s population.”
The situation has become so dire in the state that its government posted a special declaration on May 17 noting that officials were providing additional funding to protect cops and prison staff.
“Unfortunately, organized crime groups have shown up at the homes of police officers, which poses a threat and a greater risk of loss of life, not just for them, but for members of their families,” the proclamation read. “They have been forced to quickly leave their homes and move, so that organized crimes groups cannot find them.”
Adds Saucedo: “This is an open war against the security forces of the state government.”
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