To Fight Police Corruption, One Mexican State Starts from Scratch

If you plan on taking a hunting or fishing vacation in Mexico this year you may have some company... armed guards are now used by many lodges to keep clients safe from run-ins with the drug cartels.

Prime dove, deer and bass fishing areas near the US border are also battle zones in Mexico's drug war, forcing more than 250 hunting lodges to shut down and threatening the country's tourism industry.

Hector Aguilar, who runs Big Bass Hunting & Fishing in Mexico's Tamaulipas State, says they have lost about 95 percent of their business.

"People from the States used to come here a lot," said Aguilar. "That was our main target market and then just because of bad media it dropped and here we are."

The Mexican government has been aggressive in taking the fight to the drug cartels  A five year battle has left 43,000 dead and exposed Mexico's police force as complicit. An entirely new force, the Civil Guard, is being formed to fight the cartels.

Mexican officials say they are aware that citizens have lost confidence in local law enforcement.

"The people have to trust these new guys that we are putting in the streets," said Jorge Domene, a Mexican Federal Security official, "but the only way we are going to regain their trust is through achieving results on the streets.

The new cadets train with rubber knives and empty pistols. More advanced students practice urban assault tactics with live ammunition.

Ethics are given equal billing with weapons training. One instructor holds a Mexican 100 Peso note in front of twenty cadets at attention, shouting at them about the perils of bribery. The cadets shout back the response, "We will never lose our worth!"

Corruption in Mexican law enforcement until now has been endemic. The average police officer earns roughly $600 a month. The new Civil Guard recruits will earn three times that salary, along with housing and insurance benefits that officials help will prevent the new force from working with, instead of fighting, the cartels.

Steve Harrigan is a Fox News Correspondent based in Miami, FL.

Fox News' Serafin Gomez contributed to this report.

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