Angela Kocherga, KENS 5 (San Antonio), Feb. 22, 2006
The Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo is coping with record drug violence and is struggling to build a new police force.
Police are caught in the crossfire, fighting crime but also corruption within their ranks. And more Nuevo Laredo police officers have been forced to turn in their badges.
The police chief says he needs 600 officers but has half that to patrol the streets.
On Monday, the federal government ordered him to fire 57 of his officers.
Federal cops patrolled this past summer when federal police moved in to secure the city. Nearly 150 city cops were removed, and standards set to ensure the city’s crime fighters are on the right side of the law.
That line blurs in many Mexican cities up and down the Rio Grande. Cops can turn to corruption as a way to survive. The old adage “bullet or bribe?” is well known along the border.
The death tolls last year were 11 Mexican police chiefs in drug trafficking regions. This month, two more were gunned down in the state Nuevo Leon.
Families walking through Nuevo Laredo ask: Were the police chiefs killed in the line of duty or lining their pockets with drug proceeds?