Tijuana police carry a box of their weapons to hand over to Mexican federal troops on Thursday.
Local police in Tijuana weren’t patrolling the violent border city Friday after soldiers sent by President Felipe Calderon to crack down on drug gangs and corruption seized most of their guns.
Tijuana Public Safety Secretary Luis Javier Algorri said that without arms it was too dangerous for the force of 2,000 police to patrol the streets of the city where 13 officers were shot dead last year.
“This is an unfortunate situation because it leaves agents defenseless and does not allow them to serve the community,” Algorri said in a news conference.
On Tuesday, Calderon sent 3,300 soldiers and federal police to Tijuana to hunt down drug gangs. The soldiers swept police stations and took officers’ guns for inspection on Thursday amid allegations by federal investigators that a corrupt network of officers supports smugglers who traffic drugs into the United States.
On Friday, soldiers monitored those leaving and entering Tijuana, while federal and state police manned checkpoints within the city limits.
Dubbed “Operation Tijuana,” the mobilization is the second major military offensive against drug gangs by Calderon, who took office on December 1 promising to crack down on organized crime.
Last month, Calderon sent 7,000 troops to his native state of Michoacan in western Mexico, plagued by execution-style killings and beheadings as rival gangs fight over marijuana plantations and smuggling routes.
Drug gangs are blamed for more than 2,000 murders nationwide in 2006 and have left a particularly bloody trail in Michoacan and Tijuana, where more than 300 people were slain last year.