Monterrey – A campaign to stamp out police corruption in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon has led so far to the dismissal of 3,200 officers and to criminal charges against 420 others, Gov. Rodrigo Medina said.
The state, which borders Texas, has also experienced more than 2,200 murders over the past two years amid a turf battle between the Gulf and Los Zetas drug cartels.
"Without hesitation, we intervene decisively in our (police) forces and in the municipalities, as has been demonstrated in the various operations, and we will continue doing so, because we learned the lesson that this is a process that must never end," Medina told state lawmakers in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon's capital.
Police collusion with organized crime is seen as a major factor contributing to the violence in Nuevo Leon.
A member of the state police is among those in custody for an Aug. 25 arson attack that resulted in the deaths of 52 people at the Casino Royale gambling parlor in Monterrey, an atrocity blamed on Los Zetas.
Making his second State of the State address, the governor said his aim is to purge bad or corrupt cops and replace them with recruits capable of implementing a "new model of policing based on intelligence" as a way of countering the massive firepower of the cartels.
The Nuevo Leon government needs to recruit 2,000 men a year to create a new, 13,000-strong state police force within the next four years, Medina said.
Members of the new force will be subject to thorough background checks and are to receive training from the Mexican army, he said.