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Police in Mexican state of Sinaloa accused of handing youths over to criminals

Local authorities confirm video footage showing officers detaining group as armed men arrive

Four local police officers from Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa, in northwest Mexico, have been accused of arresting eight youths and then turning them over to members of an organized crime gang. A video posted by local daily El Sol de Sinlaoa shows the policemen stopping the young men in front of a tortilla store in a working-class area of the city. A number of cars then arrive and several men in civilian clothes armed with heavy weapons approach the police. The recording was captured by local residents on Wednesday night.

Archive footage of a police patrol in Culiacán.

Victor Hugo Sánchez Mendieta, the head of security in Culiacán, confirmed to local media that the officers in the recording were local police. He said that the officers admitted having handed over the detainees under pressure from the gang members, who they say had threatened their own families.

“We cannot allow this type of event to go unpunished; we cannot carry out an investigation to determine if they were, or were not, pressured into doing this, but what we are doing is making them available to the competent authorities”, he said, according to local media.

This is not the first time that Mexican police have been accused of colluding with organized crime gangs

This is not the first time that Mexican police have been accused of colluding with drugs cartels and other organized crime gangs in kidnappings and murders. In Ayotzinapa, in Guerrero state, in September 2014, local police are accused of handing 43 students over to a drug cartel. The students then disappeared. So far only one body has been identified.

In January 2016, five young men were kidnapped by local police in Tierra Blanca, on the border of the states of Veracruz and Oaxaca. A video obtained by the parents of the victims shows officers forcing the young men into a patrol car. They have not been seen since.

Sinaloa now faces an epidemic of violence, with gunfights between rival groups of drug traffickers. In the first two months of the year, there have been 235 killings, an increase of 30% over the same period in 2016. Local and federal authorities have attributed this increase in crime rates to the power vacuum left in the Sinaloa cartel after the extradition of its leader, Joaquin El Chapo Guzman to the United States, where he awaits trial.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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