10/04/11 — From Veracruz to Monterrey, a small corruption investigation has created a domino effect in arrests of police officers with ties to cartel activity. A major police corruption ring was dismantled today after an investigation exposed eighteen municipal police officers were working for the Zeta cartel in the areas of Acultzingo, Huiloapan, Rafael Delgado, Rio Blanco and Mendoza City, Veracruz. During a similar operation, Monterrey also dismissed 261 local police, arresting 66 of them for suspected links to drug gangs.
The sting operation was conducted from September 30 to October 3 and was started after authorities received an anonymous tip. The citizen complaint was further corroborated by naval intelligence that revealed the town of Rancho Viejo in the City of Nogales, Veracruz, had police officers working for organized crime groups. According to seized records, each police officer was paid a “salary” ranging from 2,000 to 10,000 pesos. Yesterday, the Mexican Navy recovered an envelope stuffed with 10,000 pesos and a list of police officers and their pay for security and surveillance for the cartel while working as on-duty police officers.
Victor Osorio Santacruz, “El Pantera,” who served as deputy commander of the municipal police in Ciudad Mendoza, was discovered to be a ranking official in the Zeta Cartel. Osorio’s job, like many of the officers arrested, was to monitor the movements of federal police in the region. All arrestees have been turned over to the Attorney General’s Office of Veracruz (Procuraduría General de la Justicia del Estado de Veracruz).
The news of municipal police corruption broke within minutes of the Reforma and Los Angeles Times news stories that alleged Mexican federal police officers have been running a cocaine-trafficking ring through Mexico City’s international airport through coercion of Aeromexico flight attendants and private security personnel.
In addition to the eighteen police officers, fourteen civilians were also arrested for their involvement in Zeta Cartel operations. The Mexican Navy reported that the following fugitives were also found during the operation in Veracruz: Luis Eduardo Martinez; José Francisco Ortiz Kurgan; Javier Calderon Rodriguez, “The Javier;” Jorge Romero Garcia, “Kico;” Jaime Sánchez Aguilar, “The Jimi;” Luis Enrique Pinedo Orozco; Mario Elias Ortiz Rosas, “The Burra”; Carlos Salinas Breton, “The Panzon” Carmona; and Miguel Angel Roman were arrested after their September 19, 2011 escape from Amatlán de Rey prison.
Veracruz has witnessed an increase in violence in the past weeks with the September 21 public retaliation when 35 bodies littered a busy street during rush hour. In recent days, rising violence has been attributed to the Zeta Cartel, the vigilante group “Mata Zetas“, the Gulf cartel, and La Familia Michoacana.