An entire municipal police force in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua have resigned from their posts citing threats from criminal groups, according to reports.
On July 17, a group of police in the municipality of San Francisco de Conchos, Chihuahua, handed in their resignation, saying they were under intense pressure from gangs in the area. Norte Digital reported that 75 percent of the force resigned, though some are saying the whole force stepped down.
Officers told the government that there had been a lack of support for their work, and a rise in criminal activity in the area. In the last two weeks, masked assailants robbed two officers of their weapons, while another officer was found dead on July 14.
Chihuahua's state prosecutor announced that state police have been sent as a temporary measure to San Francisco de Conchos. Surrounding municipalities will also provide forces, reported El Universal.
InSight Crime Analysis
There have been a number of mass police resignations in recent years, as local police face threats and attacks from drug traffickers. In October 2010, the entire force from the town of Los Ramones, Nuevo Leon, walked out after their station was attacked by gunman. Just three months later, another town in the state saw 38 police officials step down following similar incidents. In August, 26 officers quit in Ascension, Chihuahua, after two of their colleagues were gunned down.
Municipal police officers are a particular target for gangs. They are often poorly paid, increasing the chance they will be open to colluding with gangs to supplement their income. Last month, for example, four officers from San Francisco de Conchos were arrested by the army for suspected ties to drug trafficking.
The vulnerability of Mexico's state and municipal police to corruption has been one of the reasons behind the army's involvement in combating crime since 2006. President Felipe Calderon has tried to centralize the country's police forces in order to cut out the weak local forces, but he has failed to bring this about, and now has less than six months left in office.
The army's role in fighting crime is likely to continue under incoming President Enrique Peña Nieto, who has shown few signs he would cut it back.