According to the Los Angeles Times, in rural and border areas of Mexico, police agencies that serve as the first line of defense against drug dealers are often underpaid, ill-equipped and unmotivated to fight. Taking on traffickers can cost officers their lives, while taking dealers’ money to look the other way is both safer and less dangerous.
Municipal officers account for 60 percent of the police force in Mexico, with state and federal police making up the rest, the Times reports. Mexican officials and analysts say city police and city officials receive a big share of the estimated $3 billion that drug traffickers pay in bribes each year. The Times said officials at Mexico’s Public Safety Secretariat estimate traffickers pay police an average monthly bribe roughly equal to a starting officer’s monthly salary in these areas.