A total of 837 police officers were dismissed after their law-enforcement agency in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz was dissolved as part of a wider purge.

Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte issued a decree dissolving the Xalapa-Banderilla-Tlalnehuayocan Inter-Municipal Police Force, whose officers provide security to more than 600,000 inhabitants.

Duarte, according to the state's Official Gazette, decided to put the state's Public Safety Secretariat in charge of security in those three municipalities, one of which - Xalapa - is the state capital.

The governor also requested the support of army soldiers and navy personnel in confiscating the service weapons of the officers, who can return to the job if they pass corruption and competence tests.

Mexico has more than 1,200 police forces and a total of 600,000 officers, most of them municipal and state cops.

Federal authorities are subjecting municipal police to "confidence" tests due to suspicion they may be on the payroll of powerful drug gangs, whose turf battles with rivals and clashes with security forces have left nearly 40,000 dead in the past four-and-a-half years.

They also have mapped out a plan to create 32 state police forces, one for each of the country's 31 states and the Federal District (Mexico City).

State and local police in Mexico are poorly paid and are often confronted with the choice known here as "plomo o plata" (lead or silver): accept a bribe for looking the other way or get killed for refusing.