80 Cops Get the Ax in Nuevo Laredo

Jeorge Zarazua, San Antonio Express-News, June 22

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico—The mayor of this embattled city announced Tuesday that nearly 80 police officers have been fired for failing to pass a screening process started as a result of a recent shootout between local and federal officers.

Nuevo Laredo Mayor Daniel Peña said the officers were terminated for violating various administrative policies, ranging from absenteeism to more severe charges of flunking drug tests.

City spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said up to 70 other officers are in jeopardy of losing their jobs before the end of the week.

Combined, that would mean pronouncing unfit for duty about one-fifth of the 700-plus department responsible for preventive security in this city of more than 400,000, a crucial funnel point for truck and train cargo between the United States and Mexico.

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The fired cops were the first to lose their jobs after the city’s officers were pulled off the street last week to allow federal agents to ferret out corruption within the force. Officers were suspended with pay and must report to the station for their shifts, where they spend the time in an uncomfortable limbo, sitting around reading newspapers.

The ongoing federal investigation of the local police force was triggered after 41 city police officers engaged in a shootout June 11 with federal agents dressed in civilian clothing. An agent of the Agencia Federal de Investigacion or AFI, Mexico’s equivalent of the FBI, was critically wounded.

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