Roughly half of the police in the north Mexico state of Tamaulipas have failed confidence tests, most due to links to organized crime or drug use, underscoring the debilitating degree of police corruption in a region currently struggling against out of control drug war violence.
In response to a recent spike in violence attributed to fighting between rival Gulf Cartel factions, the Tamaulipas state government has accelerated the testing of local police, with the goal of completing the process by October.
So far, approximately half of all police to take the test have failed, with one official saying that in 40 to 60 percent of these cases, this failure was due to ties to organized crime or drug abuse. In March alone, 408 officers -- 58 percent of municipal police subjected to the exams -- failed, reported Milenio.
The violence has also provoked a reaction from the federal authorities. On May 13, the federal government announced a new security strategy in Tamaulipas, which will see military personnel and federal police deployed throughout the state.
InSight Crime Analysis
The increase in violence caused by the Gulf Cartel power struggles saw at least 70 murders reported during April and 25 in the first ten days of May.
SEE ALSO: Gulf Cartel News and Profile
The Mexican government's ability to combat this wave of violence has been seriously hampered by rampant corruption in state and municipal police forces. On May 5, the head of state police investigations, Salvador de Haro Muñoz, was ambushed and killed in an assassination allegedly orchestrated by his own agents. He was reportedly killed for investigating links between the transit police in Ciudad Victoria, the state capital, and criminal organizations. Shortly before his death, some twenty transit police officers were arrested for working with a local criminal group.
The issues confronting the federal authorities in Tamaulipas are far from unique. A similar police purge occurred in the Pacific coastal state of Michoacan in 2013 shortly after federal forces took control of Lazaro Cardenas, a port controlled by the Knights Templar. In November, 700 Michoacan police officers were either fired or demoted for failing confidence tests.
The Mexican government has yet to announce how long federal security forces will remain in Tamaulipas, or how they plan to replace half the state's police force.