By Jim Kouri
The Mexican government confirmed that on Monday 37 police officers were arrested in eastern Mexico for allegedly cooperating and working with the deadly and powerful Los Zetas drug cartel, according to a U.S. drug enforcement source.
Mexican Navy officials, who were called in to take action, said in a statement that 19 local cops were captured in Veracruz state capital of Xalapa and another 16 in neighboring San Luis Potosi state were nabbed, four of whom were female officers.
“All of them were police officers in the Ministry of Public Security of Veracruz and allegedly collaborated with the criminal organization of Los Zetas,” said the Navy statement.
The 37 suspects were transported in heavily guarded vehicles to Mexico City where they went before the public prosecutor from the Special Investigations Office for Organized Crimes, according to the U.S. source.
Ironically, the investigation that led to the arrest of 37 law officers was the result of an investigation into the killings of 35 people by Los Zetas last year in Veracruz, according to the Law Enforcement Examiner source.
Los Zetas, a gang originally formed by deserters from the Mexican military forces to provide protection and “muscle” for the various drug gangs, is now seen as one of the most powerful drug trafficking groups in Mexico and in the world.
The Mexico’s federal government deployed thousands of troops to assist federal and local police officers in a bloody war with Los Zetas and other cartel as part of the “Operation Safe Veracruz” which the Calderon administration initiated last October.
Meanwhile, Mexican police reported the discovery of 37 dismembered and burned bodies on a highway in west Mexican state of Michoacan on Saturday.
The bodies were discovered in plastic bags in a pickup truck near the border between Michoacan and Jalisco states. The killings had all the hallmarks of a drug gang attack, a local official said. Seventeen mutilated bodies were also found last Sunday along the same highway in Jalisco.
On Dec. 1, 2012, President Felipe Calderon, who declared war on the drug cartels in 2006, will turn over the presidency to Mexican President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Since Calderon’s war on drugs began, more than 50,000 Mexicans have been killed.