Key officer in border city killed

SUNDAY, MAY 11, 2008

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – The No. 2 police officer in a Mexican border city across from Texas was shot dead Saturday, the latest high-ranking official killed in an onslaught of attacks blamed on gangs resisting a crackdown.

Gunmen sprayed Juan Antonio Roman Garcia’s car with bullets outside his home in Ciudad Juarez, officials said. The attack came months after his name appeared at the top of a hit list left at a monument for fallen police officers.

Mexico has been shaken by a wave of drug-related violence as gangs battle security forces and each other for control of trafficking routes north.

The son of suspected Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquin Guzman was killed in a shootout Thursday in another northern city. The same day, Mexico’s acting federal police chief, Edgar Millan Gomez, was gunned down in front of his Mexico City home.

President Felipe Calderon said Friday that the attacks against police showed weakened gangs were trying to counter his fight against drug trafficking. Since taking office in 2006, Calderon has sent more than 25,000 soldiers into states throughout Mexico to combat drug gangs.

More than 200 people have been killed this year in Ciudad Juarez, a Chihuahua state city of 1.3 million across from El Paso, Texas, that is home base for the Juarez cartel. The government deployed more than 2,500 soldiers and federal police to Chihuahua in March.

Several people on the hit list have been killed, and none of the perpetrators has been caught. Government officials displayed video footage of the list at a news conference Saturday, with Roman Garcia’s name at the top.

“His death has plunged the city into mourning because he was an exemplary officer with an impeccable 20-year record who fulfilled his duties until his last breath, despite the dangers,” said Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz.

Although he vowed his government would not be intimidated, Ferriz said all police officers had been ordered to take added precautions. “We know that organized crime will keep up the violence,” he said.


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