Officers from Mexico’s Federal Protection Service (SPF in Spanish) are to form a new police force whose sole purpose will be to keep the country’s mining operations safe.
According to El País newspaper, the official launching of the group is expected in the coming hours, with the Secretariat for Citizen Safety and Protection, the Secretariat of Economy and Mexico’s Mining Chamber all involved in the event.
Initially, the new force will be joined by 118 officers from the SPF who received special training on the security of mining operations back in September. The plan is to, eventually, have a team of at least 1000 people to satisfy the demand from mining companies.
The decision to focus on the mining sector follows recent incidents in which criminal bands – normally connected to drug cartels – entered a number of operations and stole considerable amounts of gold and silver.
Among the most recent and notorious incidents are April’s robbery at Alamos Gold’s Mulatos gold mine also in Sonora, and March’s attack on Fresnillo’s Sonora state mines, with very few details provided by the Miners’ Association of Sonora. Just five months prior to this attack, a truck travelling from Fresnillo’s Noche Buena mine in Sonora was intersected by armed criminals who stole between $6 million and $8 million in doré bars.
“Mining represents one of the key industries for the country’s development and for its economy, as Mexico is among the top places when it comes to the production and export of a number of materials,” the SPF said in a media statement. “However, in recent years, [mining] has been affected by criminal groups that have impacted operations and hurt this sector. This is why Mexico’s president asked the Secretariat of Economy and Citizen Protection to double their efforts when it comes to the security of these operations. Thus, the decision has been to designate the SPF as the group in charge of this important work.”
The SPF is part of the Secretariat for Citizen Safety and Protection. Its officers provide services similar to those of private security agents, such as building watch and acting as bodyguards in sectors considered strategic by the government.
Note: A previous version of this story mentioned Minera Alamos instead of Alamos Gold as the owner of the Mulatos mine.