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  HOME | Mexico

Police Chief Gunned Down in Southeast Mexico

VILLAHERMOSA, MEXICO -- A senior state police officer was killed Tuesday outside his home in the southeastern Mexican town of Cardenas, authorities said.

Francisco Federico Lopez Brito, who commanded the local garrison of the Tabasco state police, was surprised by heavily armed assailants as he was getting into his pickup truck to go to work.

"We have information that it was an armed commando that traveled in two vehicles," state Attorney General Rafael Gonzalez Lastra told reporters.

Police found dozens of shell casings on the street outside Lopez's residence in Cardenas, located some 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Villahermosa, the state capital.

Lopez's murder comes just days after another Tabasco state police commander, Carlos Reyes Lopez, was slain at his home along with 10 family members and a street vendor who happened to be in the vicinity.

The state AG office suspects last Saturday's bloodbath was the work of organized crime. Both Lopez and Reyes were involved in coordinating joint police-military operations that targeted drug traffickers.

Speaking from his headquarters in Villahermosa, the commander of Mexico's 30th Military Zone, Jaime Rufino Hernandez, said the killings of the police officers would lead to an intensified crackdown on criminal elements in the region.

Armed groups linked to Mexico's drug cartels murdered around 2,700 people in 2007 and 1,500 in 2006, with the 2008 death toll soaring to 5,630.

Since taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon has deployed more than 30,000 soldiers and federal police to nearly a dozen of Mexico's 31 states in a bid to stem the violence. EFE
 

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