SPF’s New Security Arm for Mining OperationsBy Paloma Duran | Mon, 10/26/2020 - 14:09
The Ministry of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC), the Ministry of Economy (SE) and the Mexican Mining Chamber (CAMIMEX) have announced the implementation of a new police force under the Federal Protection Service (SPF) that will provide protection to national deposits.
Currently, there are only 118 police agents that graduated last month from SPF’s program. However, in late September, during the closing ceremony of the Mining Facility Safety Specialization course, Alfonso Durazo, SSPC former Minister, said the dependency is expecting to recruit 50,000 police officers in a six-year period that will be specialized not only in mines but in other strategic sectors such as ports and airports. He also mentioned that the increase of officers will depend on the companies that will pay for these new services.
During the ceremony that celebrated the new police officers’ entrance to the mining sector, Manuel Espinoso Barrientos, Commissioner of SPF, stated that initially there was an evaluation to select the best possible officers for this new area and subsequently they were trained in the protection of mining facilities.
Mining is one of the main industries that are essential to Mexico’s development. According to the government the sector contributes 2.4 percent to the national GDP. Moreover, the country has 274 operational mines and 1,000 deposits that are being explored and built.
Mexico is leader in the production and export of materials. Nonetheless, its performance has been affected by recent incidents from criminal bands, the majority related to drug cartels that have stolen gold and silver from national deposits.
Organized crime has increased its involvement in illicit operations like fuel theft and clandestine exploitation of mineral resources. The most notorious theft happened in April at the Alamos Gold Mulatos gold mine in Sonora, which lead the government to establish this specialized mining force.
Last Sunday, Espinoso said that a new era for SSPC had just begun. The police force aims to protect the mining industry , communities and families close to the mine. Currently, the new recruits have surveillance duties on transportation vehicles and at Sonora mines to prevent thefts.
Government authorities also mentioned that Puebla is among the first states that will welcome the new mining police due to the importance of this sector in the state. The Mexican Geological Service of the Ministry of Economy reported that Puebla has at least 80 metal and non-metal strategic mines located in its five main mining regions: Sierra Norte, Centro, Izucar de Matamoros, Mixteca and Tehuacan.
According to El País and Alan Zamoya, Risk Analyst at Control Risks, however, the new SPF police main objective is not to improve national security but to obtain higher profits from private enterprises. Furthermore, Zamoya said that SPF’s capacities are too limited with only 118 police officers and that there will not be a substantial change in the industry unless SPF’s strength and capabilities change.