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Mexican Police Force Armed With Slingshots After Guns Confiscated

 

Police in a troubled Mexican municipality have been equipped with slingshots and stones after state officials stripped officers of their weapons.

Only 30 officers of the 130-member police department in Alvarado, on Mexico’s Gulf Coast, have passed control tests and been deemed fit for service, prompting the Veracruz state public secretariat to disarm the force, media reported.

Mayor Bogar Ruiz Rosas said the force was made up of mostly new hires, who were scheduled to start training in the state police academy. Mexican media showed the mayor handing out catapults and small bags of rocks to officers, in a symbolic act of protest.

He insisted the disarming of local police in Alvarado was a political vendetta ahead of the 1 July elections on the national and state levels.

“This can only be understood as something political and we have to be prepared to do work in a professional manner,” Ruiz said in a ceremony, where he handed police officers slingshots and small bags of rocks.

The state governor, Miguel Ángel Yunes Linares, who belongs to a rival party and whose son is running to replace him, told media a council coordinating security in the state confiscated the force’s weapons because its members were not accredited.

Veracruz has been the setting for a string of horrors over the past decade, including forced disappearances, mass graves containing the remains of hundreds of people and the murders of at least 20 journalists.

Yunes’ predecessor as state governor, Javier Duarte, was detained on corruption charges, while his former prosecutor and public security secretary have been arrested on accusations of participating in schemes to commit forced disappearances.

The online news organisation Animal Politico noted the slingshot ceremony took place near a site where 47 skulls had been discovered in a clandestine grave.

Fixing police forces across Mexico has also proved difficult – something analysts attribute to politicians preferring to pawn off security problems on the army rather than investing in local law enforcement.

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