‘The residents of this town are a horny bunch’, says Acapulco’s police chief Manuel Flores, the creator of Mexico’s first all-female police force.
‘You wouldn’t believe how docile a dangerous driver becomes after being pulled over by a sexy girl’.
He is the ‘proud’ pioneer of a police unit that boasts it is the sexiest in the world, and where the official criteria for a job is simply that you are ‘young, female and pretty’.
The unashamedly sexist move by Mexico’s force is extraordinary in 2016, but it represents a desperate move by authorities against the gang wars that have blighted Acapulco’s image and tourist numbers.
The Tourist Assistance Brigade, a handcuff-toting arm of the municipal police, was created last October and is dedicated to keeping the visitors happy.
Made up of 42 women aged between 18 and 28, the new brigade’s duties include stopping traffic to assist tourists across busy roads, patrolling the beachfront and detaining criminals while the arresting authorities arrive. The ‘girls’ earn $8,000 pesos a month, or £317 ($440).
‘Tourism makes up 80 per cent of the local economy, and visitors number have dropped since the local gang wars began’, Chief Flores told MailOnline as he inspected his newest officers, ‘we had to think of a way to inspire confidence in the tourists, and our new faces on the street are not only responsible but very eye-catching’.
‘But it’s not sexist’, he insists, ‘we have fat chicks too’.
‘They’re lovely’, said Steven Dingman, 62, from Wisconsin, after being chaperoned towards the town’s Papagayo waterfront park by 20-year-old Fanny Estevez.
‘I wouldn’t say so with my wife around, but it certainly brightens up my day’.
‘It’s an important job’, says Michigan native John Farkas, 67, who visits Acapulco for six weeks every year.
‘I still wouldn’t walk around this area at night, but it’s nice to have them around’.
‘I really enjoy it’, says Heidi Rodriguez, 23, who claims she doesn’t put up with troublemakers but has a ready smile for visitors to her hometown.
‘We’ve had a lot of positive comments from tourists and locals alike, many of them asking me out.
‘The spring-breakers will be here next week’, she says, ‘and we’ll be ready for them’.
Acapulco’s newest officers are dressed in brown Bermuda shorts, light blue polo shirts and sunhats to withstand the blistering 34-degree midday heat.
The unit starts its day at 7am at the western end of the bay, where after half an hour of applying their mandatory make-up, complete with pre-approved shades of bright-pink lipstick, the brigade it inspected by the municipal force’s senior officers.
‘Our plan is to give a sense of responsibility, but also of confidence’, says Chief Flores. ‘We don’t discourage our officers from flirting, as it lets tourists leave Acapulco with a good impression’.
‘I get hollered at constantly’, says Brenda Ortiz, 23, who was accepted immediately onto the training program after applying last October.
‘Men shout at me from their cars, asking me to arrest them and handcuff them when they drive past’.
‘I interviewed every applicant personally’, Chief Flores told MailOnline. ‘Our studies showed that young females are the least corruptible of all new recruits.
Much of our municipal police force is very corrupt, so we are attempting to bring in as many trustworthy officials as possible’.
Following Chief Flores’ selection of 42 candidates last October, a three-month training period began with Mexico’s Federal Forces, who have a heavy presence alongside the military in Acapulco.
‘They’ve been trained in self-defence, crowd control and lifesaving techniques’, said the police chief as he smiled beside his troop.
‘We focused on their physical fitness training in the swimming pool’.
Once North America’s most popular holiday resort, Acapulco is currently living through the worst period of violence in its history.
An ongoing war between organised crime organisations has already cost 648 lives in the two months since the start of the year.
Guerrero state is Mexico’s largest producer of opium.
Produced in the mountainous rural countryside inland, much of the raw material is brought to cities like Iguala (where 43 students were disappeared by the municipal police force in 2014), Chilpancingo and Acapulco, where it is refined into heroin before being sent northwards to the US.
Cartel extortion of the local tourism industry, coupled with vast quantities of narcotics moving through the state’s largest port city, has made Acapulco valuable gangland territory.
The subsequent war between the CIDA (Independent Cartel of Acapulco) and the Devil’s Command cartels have led the city’s streets to run red with blood.
2015 saw 1,600 murders in Acapulco, a town with less than one million inhabitants.
‘While visitors are rarely affected, the killing has affected the tourism industry very seriously’, said Lieutenant Lorenzo Leal, the tourist force’s duty officer.
‘These days it seems no part of Acapulco is unaffected by crime, and we have a duty to ensure the safety of our holidaymakers’.
‘It has also been a welcome change for many of the locals who have had bad experiences with the corrupt municipal force’, he told MailOnline. ‘The hope is that with these beautiful young girls patrolling the streets, we are putting faith in the police back in the populace’.
The chances of tourists witnessing a murder in Acapulco are higher than in any other North American seaside resort.
A February 14 shooting on Tamarindos Beach saw six armed men execute an unnamed sunbather, while the slaying of a beach vendor at Condesa beach three days later was witnessed by over 100 Mexian and international tourists.
No arrests have been made concerning either crime.
Both the mayor of Acapulco Evodio Vasquez and the state governor Hector Astudillo have stated their support of the all-female force since it passed its trial month last December and was inaugurated into the municipality in January 2016.
‘We want to show the public the beautiful face of Acapulco, and let them know that they are welcome’, said Mayor Vasquez following the announcement that the female force was here to stay.
‘Acapulco was built on tourism and our visitors are the city’s most important assets’, says Coral Perez, 21, who patrols the beach for stray homeless people on her police quad-bike in the late afternoon.
‘The happier the tourists are, the better it is for the locals, and what better way to do that than with a wink and a smile’.