MEXICO CITY — Thirteen Mexican federal police officers are among 18 people arrested recently on suspicion of being part of a deadly kidnapping ring operating in the troubled Pacific resort city of Acapulco, government officials said Tuesday.
The arrests this month will probably do little to improve the reputation of the Federal Police, an entity that former President Felipe Calderon, who left office in December, had vainly hoped to transform into Mexico’s most trustworthy crime-fighting force.
Nor is the news likely to improve the reputation of Acapulco, where drug cartels and other criminal gangs have helped make the former playground of Hollywood royalty one of the deadliest cities in the hemisphere.
The arrests also come at a time when, according to federal government figures, kidnappings and cases of extortion are on the rise across Mexico, even as the number of homicides is declining.
At a news conference Tuesday, Eduardo Sanchez Hernandez, the federal security spokesman, put a positive spin on the matter, saying that the arrests proved the resolve of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government to act with a “firm hand” against corrupt public servants. He said that 81 Federal Police officers had been arrested since Peña Nieto took office 10 months ago.
“The government of the republic does not tolerate, under any circumstances, acts of corruption committed by public servants," he said. "It’s lamentable that among those who have the high honor of serving the citizenry, some commit acts of treachery against the citizens they have sworn to protect.”
Sanchez said the group was responsible for at least seven homicides and four kidnappings. In two of the kidnapping cases, he said, the victims were slain. The ongoing investigation was sparked by a citizen complaint, he said, but he offered few other details about the crimes.
The police officers were all men in their 20s and 30s except for a 51-year-old officer.
The civilian suspects, Sanchez said, included four men and one woman between the ages of 24 and 35. They included Luis Miguel Gonzalez Petatan, 31, whom authorities identified as the ringleader.
Cecilia Sanchez of The Times’ Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times