Seeking to curb rampant gang violence and police corruption in the seaside city of Acapulco, Mexican authorities are taking a gamble: replacing local cops with state police and the military.
Federal officials say it is a last-ditch effort to bring peace to Acapulco, once a glamorous resort favored by Hollywood celebrities that has become one of the most murderous cities on Earth.
The local police force appears to have been infiltrated by organized crime, authorities said.
The strategy of sending in soldiers and state and federal police to do the work of neighborhood cops has been employed in other parts of the country, with mixed results. Critics say the plan is treating a symptom instead of the underlying disease — ineffective and corrupt policing — and that it is unlikely to reduce crime and could lead to human rights abuses.
Mexico’s local police forces are famously under-trained and badly compensated, with some officers paid as little as $300 a month and required to buy their own uniforms and even bullets. That makes them susceptible to gangs, who offer money in return for loyalty — and threaten violence if they disobey.
Police collusion with criminals has ranged from officers looking the other way when a crime has been committed to detaining people and turning them over to gangs.