Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico arrests 35 police officers for 'helping Zetas'

Forensic technicians remove a body from a crime scene near a wall spray painted with the "Z" symbol of the Zetas drug cartel, in Monterrey.
Image caption The Zetas were set up in the 1990s by defectors from Mexico's special forces

The Mexican armed forces have arrested 35 police officers accused of having links with one of the country's most powerful drug cartels, the Zetas.

The officers were arrested in operations in the eastern states of San Luis Potosi and Veracruz.

A turf war between the Zetas and rival criminal organisations in Veracruz has led to some of Mexico's worst massacres in recent years.

Local police officers are often accused of ties with the drug cartels.

In a statement, the Navy said the 35 people arrested "were all police officers in the Veracruz public security department and allegedly collaborated with the Zetas criminal organisation".

They were arrested on Saturday in the cities of Xalapa - capital of Veracruz state - and San Luis Potosi, but information on the operation was only released on Monday.

The 35 police officers have been taken to Mexico City to be brought before the media.

Last year, the federal government deployed thousands of troops and federal police to Veracruz, a strategic state for trafficking routes into the United States.

Several cartels are battling for control of the state, among them "los Zetas", says the BBC's Will Grant in Mexico.

The Mexican Navy has intervened in several municipalities, taking over anti-drug duties from local police officers.

The Zetas were set up originally as the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel, but they became bitter enemies after breaking ties in 2010.