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Entire Mexican Police Department Arrested In Connection With Murder Of Candidate Fernando Juárez

Nearly 30 police officers were taken into custody after mayoral candidate Fernando Ángeles Juárez was killed.

By Stefan Lembo-Stolba

The entire police force of a Mexican town was arrested Sunday in connection with the recent murder of a local political candidate.

Nearly 30 police officers from Ocampo, a town in the state of Michoacán, were taken into custody after mayoral candidate Fernando Ángeles Juárez was shot and killed on Thursday, according to El Universal in Mexico City. 

The director of public security, Venancio Colin, attempted to arrest the officers last Saturday, but was humiliated and chased from the town by members of the Ocampo police, El Universal reported.  

Colin, despite being the head of a large state police force, was ran out of town by 16 Ocampo officers “hail of bullets,” sources from the office of public security told the Mexico City newspaper.

Colin returned on Sunday with reinforcements from the Deputy Office of Public Security and arrested 28 officers, including the director of the Ocampo police department, Oscar González García.

Prosecutors first suspected García was involved in the politician’s murder, but after being confronted by the local officers they detained the entire force, the BBC reported.

Juarez, 64, was a member of Mexico’s center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution, and was a businessman with nearly no past political experience before his death. 

"He could not bear to see poverty, inequality and corruption," the candidate's close friend, Miguel Malagon, told El Universal. 

His murder came at a time where political violence in Mexico is amplified, with more than 100 politicians being killed ahead of the country’s July 1 general election. In the Michoacán region alone, Angeles Juarez was the third politician to be killed in just over a week, the BBC reported.

Omar Gomez Lucatero, another mayoral candidate in the state of Michoacán was murdered by unknown assailants, just last Wednesday outside his home in the Tierra Caliente region. 

In April, El Universal reported that two top Mexican presidential candidates — Jose Antonio Meade, the candidate for the "All for Mexico" coalition, and independant candidate Margarita Zavala — requested protective details for the remaining few months of the campaign. Nine other political candidates also requested that the country provide them protection during their campaigns.

In 2016, the Mexican government reported nearly 23,000 homicides, many of which were related to organized crime throughout the country. Michoacán is among the regions in Mexico that the U.S. Department of State advises travelers avoid, citing it as a high-crime area.

The officers arrested in Ocampo were taken to the capital of Michoacan, Morelia, for questioning. They will appear before the Internal and Legal Affairs Commission of the Office of Public Security, according to El Universal. 

[Photo: Getty Images]

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