Mexico City:  Ten members of an elite police unit in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas were arrested on charges that they had links to a criminal organisation, and were handed over to federal prosecutors, state officials said Thursday.

The arrested state police officers are suspected of having ties to a gang that operates in Ciudad Victoria, the state capital, the Tamaulipas Public Safety Secretariat said in a statement.

The officers were riding in patrol cars in an area outside their assigned sectors when they were arrested, the secretariat said.

“The initial questioning established that there are indications that the state police officers colluded with a criminal group, so it was decided to arrest them and turn them over to federal prosecutors to determine whether there is enough evidence to make a case,” the secretariat said.

The secretariat said last October the special police units were  deployed in Tamaulipas’s 43 municipalities to “provide security and peace of mind to residents”.

The officers “passed a screening process to perform their jobs with strict compliance with human rights, but especially with a willingness to serve and protect society”, the secretariat said.

Federal security forces have expanded their presence in recent days in Tamaulipas, a border state that has experienced a spike in drug-related violence.

The Gulf and Los Zetas drug cartels have been fighting for control of Tamaulipas and smuggling routes into the US for years.

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