Mexican military forces took over and disarmed the Acapulco city police force Tuesday, claiming drug cartels had heavily infiltrated levels of the city’s law enforcement, CNN reported.
The Guerrero Coordination Group undertook the operation using personnel from the National Secretary of Defense, the Marines, federal police, the State Prosecutors Office and state police, spokesman Roberto Álvarez Heredia told CNN. The beach resort turned drug haven now boasts two police commanders charged with murder and an entire police force 700 strong stripped of its equipment and sent in for background checks, according to The Independent.
State officials said the police force had shown “complete inaction” in fighting a crime wave in the city of 800,000 people, forcing the Guerrero group’s hand. Military officials say the group will maintain control of the city and conduct police work indefinitely, according to USA Today. (RELATED: Powerful Mexican Drug Cartel Leaves Gruesome Message Outside TV Office)
Acapulco suffered more than 2,300 murders in 2017, producing a murder rate of 103 per 100,000, and CIA reports say the level of violence is similar to that of war zones in the Middle East. Mexico as a whole has suffered 200,000 murders since the state began using the military to fight drug cartels in 2006.
Acapulco was a hotspot for beach-going tourists in the 1950s and ’60s, but surging crime has since killed the industry. The high murder rate caused clowns to march in protest in May because residents were supposedly too afraid to throw parties. The U.S. Department of State banned employees from traveling to the Guerrero region where Acapulco resides, saying in January groups there were operating “independently of the government,” according to the BBC.
“Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers,” the department warned.
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