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Mexican police chief quits after threats

Sat., Feb. 21, 2009

Killers had threatened to slay more officers

MEXICO CITY – The police chief in violence-torn Ciudad Juarez quit Friday after several officers were slain this week and the killers posted threats that more would die unless he resigned.

Roberto Orduna, the city’s public-safety secretary, said he didn’t want to risk more lives. A police officer and a jail guard were shot to death earlier Friday, two days after killers posted signs saying they would kill a cop every 48 hours unless Orduna resigned.

“Respect for the life that these brave officers risk every day on the streets for Juarez residents obliges me to offer my permanent resignation,” Orduna said.

The resignation is the latest blow to law and order in the border city, which has become the deadliest corner in Mexico. Killings have soared in the past year due to a bloody turf war between rival drug-trafficking groups and to the Mexican government’s crackdown on smugglers.

More than 1,350 people died in Juarez last year in violence that included numerous beheadings and the killings of more than 60 police officers.

Drug gangs have shown no sign of backing down in the face of a government offensive that has sent 3,000 soldiers into the streets of Juarez. Unofficial tallies by Mexican media put the death toll so far this year at more than 300 in Chihuahua state, home to Juarez.

On Wednesday, half a dozen handwritten signs were posted on local businesses demanding that Orduna quit. The signs warned that a Ciudad Juarez police officer would be killed every 48 hours unless the chief stepped down.

A day earlier, a second-ranking officer, operations chief Sacramento Perez, and two other agents had been shot fatally near the U.S. consulate in Juarez.

The mayor, Jose Reyes Ferriz, had said he would not back down in the face of threats. He put police on “maximum alert,” stepping up precautions to prevent attacks on police.

But by Friday afternoon, Reyes and Orduna appeared at a news conference to announce the resignation.


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