MONTERREY, Mexico – Several police officers in northern Mexico allowed a violent drug gang to hold kidnap victims in the local jail while ransom payments were being negotiated, an official said Thursday.
Four police officers from Juarez, a suburb of the city of Monterrey, are being held pending further investigation, said Jorge Domene, the security spokesman for Nuevo Leon state.
The scandal came to light this week when state and federal police freed two kidnapping victims from jail cells in Juarez. Investigators believe that the victims were abducted by the extremely violent Zetas cartel and that the officers were working for the Zetas, Domene said.
Local police in northern Mexico have often been bribed or threatened to work for drug gangs by providing them with information, protecting their activities or detaining and turning over members of rival gangs.
Domene noted that last weekend, the Nuevo Leon attorney general’s office detained 73 local policemen from a half dozen communities in the state who confessed to having performed various services for gangs, including spying, acting as lookouts, and carrying out killings and kidnappings.
Authorities then conducted background checks on 99 other officers, 21 of whom were fired after refusing to cooperate. Forty-three have passed the checks so far.