The first assignment for members of a new police force is Valle de Bravo, a chic resort town near Mexico City that has seen a recent spate of kidnappings, an official said Tuesday.

Hundreds of members of the new force, known as the gendarmerie, have traveled to the town alongside a pine-rimmed lake.

A federal official said the group of officers is one of several being deployed throughout Mexico. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

In recent weeks, kidnappers have targeted Mexico City residents who keep a second home in the town as well as working class people.

Authorities say the kidnappers are members of La Familia Michoacana drug cartel.

The group of officers is part of a special 5,000-strong police force launched last week to combat industrial, farm and business crime that is strangling commerce in some regions.

The gendarmerie is made up of fresh recruits whose average age is 28 and who have never served on another police force.

The group sent to Valle de Bravo will join about 600 other federal and Mexico state law enforcement officials, including soldiers and marines, who have recently been sent to the area 90 miles west of Mexico City.