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More Than 100 Mexico Police Arrested on Corruption Charges

More Than 100 Mexico Police Arrested on Corruption Charges
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) -- The Tijuana police chief and about 120 other state and city law enforcement officers from two Baja California border cities were arrested Wednesday, the state governor's office said.

The surprise operation appeared to be part of President Vicente Fox's crackdown on drug smuggling and police corruption. The federal attorney general's office did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Army and federal police raided the state police academy in Tecate, about 65 miles east of Tijuana, where officers were holding a meeting on their licenses to carry arms. The police were ordered to turn over their weapons and credentials and placed under arrest, Baja California Gov. Eugenio Elorduy said. It was unclear what charges the officers faced.

``The important thing here is that those with responsibility are committed to combating corruption,'' Elorduy said. ``We know that we have to fight impunity because we know that it occurs within state offices.''

After they were questioned, the detainees were taken to Tijuana and loaded onto three planes to Mexico City.

Carlos Otal, the Tijuana chief, and his two bodyguards were rounded up in the sweep, said Martin Dominguez, Tijuana's public security secretary.

The arrests came a day after the U.N. investigator into judicial independence, Param Cumaraswamy, said corruption in the Mexican legal system ``continued unabated'' despite attempts at reform.

Fox's administration has made several major arrests in the last few months, including two stunning blows to the most-feared drug gang in Mexico. Benjamin Arellano Felix was arrested March 9, and his brother, Ramon, who was on the FBI's 10 most-wanted list, was killed by police on Feb. 10.

A few days after Benjamin's detention, officials announced the arrest of Manuel Herrera Barraza, allegedly the principal smuggler of marijuana and cocaine into the western United States for the Arellano Felixes.

Wednesday's arrests took place in the Arellano Felix gang's home turf, indicating the crackdown could be a continuation of actions against the once-powerful cartel.

Last week outside Tecate, Mexican authorities dismantled a secret, 1,000-foot tunnel under the U.S.-Mexico border that was believed used by the gang to ship tons of cocaine and marijuana into California for more than a decade. The tunnel ran from a private home near Tecate to a home in the mountains east of San Diego.

Mexican police have often cooperated and even worked for drug smugglers. In September, the former police chief in Mexicali, just east of Tecate, was jailed for allegedly warning the Arellano Felix gang of police operations.
 
 

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