The world’s largest franchised Coca-Cola bottler, Coca-Cola Femsa, has closed operations at its bottling facility in Ciudad Altamirano in Guerrero, Mexico, as a result of continual threats from organised-crime groups against its employees.

The company, a joint venture between multinational beverage and retail company Fomento Economico Mexicano (Femsa) and Coca-Cola, said that the facility is facing harassment from organised crime, which is coupled with an ineffective police response.

The move is part of the company’s fundamental objective of preserving the security and safety of its 160 employees working at the distribution centre.

Coca-Cola Femsa wrote in a statement: “The current lack of the necessary conditions to efficiently and safely operate within this part of the State of Guerrero, as exemplified by the recent unjustified assault on one of our employees, led the company to make this decision.”

“The current lack of the necessary conditions to efficiently and safely operate within this part of the State of Guerrero led the company to make this decision.”

At the beginning of this year, employees at the facility were receiving constant threats and acts of aggression from organised criminal groups.

This was not the first time that Coca-Cola Femsa faced issues with violence against its staff and property in Mexico. In 2015, the company had to shut down one of its storage facilities for two weeks after a company manager and assistant were kidnapped and held as hostages by local students.

Guerrero is one of Mexico’s poorest and most lawless states. It is home to six of Mexico’s 50 most violent municipalities. The region has become a hub for drug production and trafficking and numerous criminal groups operate there. Homicides in the region have increased 14% between 2016 and 2017. In addition, the municipalities of the region do not have local police forces meaning law enforcement is left to the state authorities and the federal military.

Coca-Cola Femsa was founded in 1993 and is headquartered in Monterrey, Mexico. Femsa owns 48% of its stock, Coca-Cola owns 28% and the remaining 24% is publically listed on the Mexican Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. It has operations throughout Latin America and the Philippines.