08/13/14 — Authorities have made clear that the presence of federal police and military elements will remain in Tamaulipas, at least for the time being. Like many areas throughout Mexico, Tamaulipas has been hit hard by drug-related violence and criminal activity, pushing the government to deploy the Federal Police (Policía Federal, PF) and the military (Secretarías de Defensa Nacional and Marina, SEDENA and SEMAR) to quell the violence and restore public security. As such, the federal government created, and will continue, the “New Security Strategy” (Nueva Fase en la Estrategia de Seguridad), an operation that went into effect on May 13.
Under that strategy, federal troops took control of the state’s security, instituting a 24/7 security watch in the state’s urban zones, along specified highways, and at the airport. They also named four regional prosecutors and created a Police Training and Investigation Institute, which falls in line with one of the security strategy’s objectives of cleaning and vetting all police forces in Tamaulipas. Since the operation began, the Tamaulipas Coordination Group (Grupo de Coodinación Tamaulipas, GCT) has brought down eight of the 14 priority organized crime suspects, including two regional leaders from Los Zetas and one from the Gulf Cartel (Cartel del Golfo, CDG), who were apprehended in the first two weeks of the operation. The efforts continue as Federal Police recently rescued 24 kidnapped victims on August 11 that were being held in Reynosa, 11 from Central American and the remaining 13 from Mexico.
As authorities applaud such work being done under the security strategy, they have reiterated the government’s commitment to maintaining the federal forces’ presence. “Not one member of the Army, Navy, nor the Federal Police will be removed from Tamaulipas until the levels of violence in the state decrease,” affirmed General Arturo Gutiérrez García, the secretary of Public Security (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública, SSP) in Tamaulipas. For its part, the government is also taking steps to boost the armed forces’ public image, hosting an exposition on August 9 in Reynosa for Tamaulipas residents to interact with troops and learn more about their role in public security. The “Armed Forces and Civil Society United for Courage in Tamaulipas” (“Fuerzas armadas y sociedad civil unidos por los valores en Tamaulipas”) event was intended to help pacify relations between civilians and armed forces, given the latter’s current presence in everyday life in Tamaulipas. An increased military presence and militarized public security strategy has had serious ramifications in Mexico, with coinciding rises in allegations of human rights violations committed by the military. The expo was held in part to help neutralize relations between armed forces and civil society, giving residents the opportunity to engage and interact with troops while recognizing the common goal of strengthening public security in Tamaulipas.