10/21/13 (written by gehrenberg) — 18 members of a kidnapping ring have been arrested in Acapulco, Guerrero, including one female and 13 active duty Federal Police (Policía Federal, PF) officers. The arrests came in the first week of October—an operation led by the PF and the Office of Special Investigations on Organized Crime (Subprocuraduría de Investigación Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada, SIEDO) in the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR)—after a citizen tipped off the police and thanks to government intelligence efforts. According to Federal Government spokesman Eduardo Sánchez, the kidnapping gang, which was led by civilian Luis Miguel González Petatán and whose members ranged in age from 22 to 52, has been connected to seven homicides and 14 kidnappings, as well as alleged involvement in drug trafficking and organized crime. Law enforcement also discovered three clandestine gravesites at the Veladero Hill in Acapulco that are being further investigated for connection to the kidnapping ring. The accused officers could get up to 70 years in prison each for their crimes.
The PGR reported that the gang had been operating for around five months in Acapulco, and had killed seven of their 14 kidnapped victims. They demanded ransoms from the victims’ families between 500,000 and three million pesos. The Federal Police agents involved with the gang were allegedly active participants, and would target and kidnap victims while in uniform, using their police cars to transport them to a holding house in the Veladero Hill community.
According to the investigation, and as reported in Vanguardia, the police involved in the kidnappings proposed the criminal alliance with civilian Jonathan Piedra Soberanis, offering him complete impunity for his involvement in the kidnappings. The gang allegedly targeted individuals in Acapulco’s business community, kidnapping and keeping them locked up for one to two months while awaiting the ransom payment. The gang was able to operate with such impunity that some of its members would keep and use the victims’ cars, as they had little fear of being caught given the involvement of the 13 Federal Police. Some of the liberated victims have identified the police and confirmed that they had been kidnapped and transported in official vehicles.
Manuel Mondragón y Kalb, Mexico’s National Security Commissioner, said in a statement to Milenio that there would be zero tolerance for this type of corruption, and that the 13 officers were already being held in maximum-security prisons in northern Mexico. He added that “We wont give up one millimeter” and “we will keep on cleaning up our house” until we can reach “100% honorability” in the Federal Police. He also mentioned that new proposals had to be pushed forward to test and vet the trustworthiness of the police forces.