Bodies of Mexican police officers found near border
Three Mexican police officers were abducted, killed and dumped on a heavily patrolled road not far from the U.S. border on New Year’s Day despite an influx of troops in the area, the state attorney general’s office said Thursday.
The bodies of the officers from this sprawling border city near San Diego were found wrapped in sheets outside the nearby beach town of Rosarito on a highway with several army checkpoints.
“This looks like a response by organized crime to the military’s increased presence,” said an unidentified official from the Baja California attorney general’s office.
President Felipe Calderon has been using about 25,000 troops and federal police to battle powerful organized crime gangs and drug cartels since he came to power a year ago.
The government sent hundreds more troops to Tijuana and Rosarito in late December and disarmed Rosarito’s police force after a failed attempt to kill the town’s police chief raised suspicions of infiltration by drug gangs.
In 2007, the state counted more than 400 drug-related killings as more than 2,500 people were killed nationwide in spite of the military assault on traffickers.
In other violence, a cousin of Calderon was abducted at gunpoint, beaten and held for several hours, Mexican dailies Reforma and Milenio reported Thursday.
They said armed men seized businessman Alfonso Reyes on Wednesday in the western state of Michoacan but dropped him back home four hours later.
It was not clear whether the abduction was related to the president and his battle against organized crime, and Calderon’s office did not immediately confirm the incident.
Abductions for extortion are common in Mexico, which has one of the world’s highest kidnapping rates.
Mexican news agency Quadratin, which first reported the story, said Calderon’s brother had confirmed the abduction.
It did not know whether a ransom was paid or any cash extorted.
Milenio daily said the abduction was related to Reyes’ work.