Seven Mexican law enforcement and military officers have been charged with assisting in the theft of a half-ton of cocaine three weeks ago from the attorney general’s office in a border town south of Arizona, according to federal authorities.
The arrest of the law enforcement officers in the Mexican state of Sonora, who allegedly aided drug traffickers instead of impeding them, is the latest indication of rampant corruption within the country’s security agencies.
While reports of Mexican authorities guarding and assisting drug traffickers in moving their loads through Mexico are common, rarely have officials been accused of an act as brazen as making off with $10 million worth of cocaine, which had been seized May 12 from an airplane that was forced down by police.
“The men willfully created the conditions for the drugs to be taken out of the local offices” of the federal attorney general’s office in San Luis Rio Colorado, just south of Yuma, Ariz., according to a statement issued by federal authorities.
In addition to the seven men who have been arrested, as many as 20 other officials reportedly are being held in jail in connection with the investigation, according to relatives of the men who demonstrated in the border town Wednesday to protest the sudden “disappearances” of family members.
These detainees have not been charged. Some relatives told local reporters they believe low-ranking officials are being used as scapegoats to protect more high-profile officials involved in protecting drug traffickers.
Spokesmen for the federal attorney general’s office declined to comment on the allegations, but said “other public servants” are under investigation in connection with the case.
Among those arrested on charges of assisting in the theft of the cocaine was an agent of an anti-drug agency set up last month to replace the Institute to Combat Drugs, which officials conceded had been thoroughly corrupted by the drug cartels.