Mexico City – The federal government has launched a security operation in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz, which has been rocked by a wave of drug-related violence, officials said.
"Operation Safe Veracruz" will deploy federal forces in the state, clean up police departments and provide intelligence to fight crime, Government Secretary Jose Francisco Blake said.
"The federal government is moving in support of the local authorities (in Veracruz) to meet security needs as demanded by citizens," Blake said.
The crime rate has soared in the past year in the Gulf state, where the bodies of 35 people were dumped on a busy avenue last month.
The federal government is responding to the rising violence by working with local officials "to protect the lives of all Mexicans and guarantee the security of families in every community," Blake said.
Federal forces will be deployed across Veracruz under a unified command to "regain (control of) the areas invaded by crime" and gather intelligence to dismantle the logistical, operational and financial networks of criminal organizations, Blake said.
The Cabinet official, however, did not say how many members of the federal security forces would be deployed in the Gulf state.
Federal forces will also focus on evaluating and cleaning up police departments in an effort to employ more trustworthy officers, Blake said.
"There is no lasting security without reliable local police officers and prosecutors who work on the side of the law and of citizens, and who are regularly subjected to strict background checks," presidential spokeswoman Alejandra Sota said.
A recruitment campaign will be launched to increase the number of officers in the cities of Veracruz and Boca del Rio, as well as to "form an Accredited State Police," Blake said.
More money will be spent in the state as part of the heightened focus on security in Veracruz, which received 421 million pesos ($30 million) in public safety funds in budget year 2011.
"For 2012, we will provide more resources to meet the needs of recruitment, cleaning up departments, equipment and certification of departments," Blake said.
"Operation Safe Veracruz" also includes additional federal funds that the government appropriated for the state this year, Sota said.
"A total of 532 million pesos ($38 million) has been appropriated precisely so that local officials can carry out these necessary transformations," the presidential spokeswoman said.
"Only the government, with its three branches, its institutions and police forces, is authorized to administer the law and prosecute criminals," Blake said, referring to the killings of 35 people by a group calling itself "Los Mata-Zetas" and claiming to defend the people from the violent Zetas drug cartel.
"Those who try to mete out justice by their own hand or to take over any of the untransferable functions of the state become criminals and the government will bring the full weight of the law" to bear on them, the secretary said.
The security forces will patrol urban "neighborhoods with high crime rates," set up checkpoints on roads, conduct reconnaissance flights both in the daytime and at night, and secure coastal areas and waterways, Blake said.
The state government's priority is to "insure and guarantee the full rights" of citizens, Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte said.