Entire police force arrested in Mexican town after mayoral candidate murdered
July 21, 2020
The entire police force in the Mexican town of Ocampo were disarmed and arrested for allegedly obstructing an investigation into the murder of the mayor ahead of country-wide elections on Sunday.
Fernando Angeles Juárez was killed on Thursday morning after three gunmen broke into the ranch where he lives just as he was preparing to start a day’s campaigning, local media reported.
Over 120 politicians have been killed across Mexico since September, when campaigning began ahead of the country’s July 1 general elections. Voters are being ask to elect over 3,000 local officials, as well as a new president and a new legislature.
Mr Angeles Juárez was the third politician killed in the state of Michoacán in a week.
After his murder, Michoacán state forces went to Ocampo on Saturday with a warrant to arrest the town’s public security secretary Oscar González for questioning, but were forced to retreat when local police officers under his control fired shots into the air.
Murder rate in Mexico
This prompted a second operation in the early hours of Sunday morning that ended with all 27 municipal officers, as well as González, in detention.
Images aired on local media showed them lying face down on the floor with their hands handcuffed behind their backs, before they were taken in a convoy to the state capital Morelia for questioning.
There are numerous cases of local police forces throughout Mexico being in the pay of drug cartels, though the Michoacan authorities have not made any explicit link between the arrest of the police and the murder of the candidate.
Corruption and security are the key issues in Sunday’s vote, dominated at a national level by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Leftist presidential candidate who is expected to sweep into power.
Experts say the current wave of political murders in Mexico is a sign that organised criminal gangs are seeking to ensure they have friendly officials in government.
The victims are often assumed to have been selected either because they have refused to accept bribes or bow to pressure from the gangs, or because they are already associated with criminal rivals.
Miguel Malagón, a close friend and political aide to Mr Angeles Juárez, told local media that the candidate had not received any threats prior to his murder.
“He was a person who was very well loved in this town,” Mr Malagón said. “We had no warning that his life was in danger.”