October 20, 2014 / 3:51 AM / 3 years ago

Mexico feds to replace 13 local police forces suspected of crime ties

Two girls hold a sign that reads, "And if it was your son?" during a demonstration for the 43 missing students of the Ayotzinapa teachers' training college in Tixtla, on the outskirts of Chilpancingo, in the Mexican state of Guerrero, October 19, 2014.Jorge Dan Lopez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's federal forces will take over security in 13 central and southern towns where police are suspected of ties to crime groups, authorities said on Sunday, pointing to widespread gang infiltration among law enforcement in the region.

Mexico's federal police and army have already taken control of two towns in the bloody southwestern state of Guerrero, where police allegedly conspired with a criminal gang to kill 43 missing students.

Authorities identified irregularities in 13 additional local police forces, "which allows us to assume there are ties between public security officials...and members of organised crime," director of the National Security Commission Monte Alejandro Rubido said in a televised press conference.

Rubido said authorities had confiscated weapons belonging to local police in 12 Guerrero towns and one municipality in the central state of Mexico, adding that the law enforcement personnel would be subject to review.

The 43 students went missing near Iguala, Guerrero on Sept. 26 after clashing with police and masked men, sending shockwaves across Mexico and prompting thousands to march in the beach resort of Acapulco on Friday to demand answers about their fate.

Reporting by Jean Luis Arce, Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Kim Coghill

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