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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Mexican state sacks entire police
Federal police take over a station in Morelos while local officers look on
Federal police took over stations after local officers were sent home
Federal police have taken over security in central Mexico's Morelos state after a governor dismissed its entire police force.

The state's 552 policemen were sacked after the arrest of two top officers for allegedly protecting a drugs gang.

State governor Sergio Estrada said all the policemen had handed back their weapons while each one's record in the job was being scrutinised.

The two officers are accused of helping the Juarez cartel smuggle cocaine.

State police chief Jose Augustine Montiel and his operations director, Raul Cortes, are being held on suspicion of cutting a deal with the gang, which gets its name from a town near the US border where it is apparently based.

Five other suspects - also state employees - are on the run.

Prosecutors say planes ferrying cocaine from Colombia were allowed to land at an airport in Morelos state's capital, Cuernavaca.

They further allege that consignments of cocaine would leave the airport in police vehicles, before being sold.

The Juarez cartel is said to be one of the country's major drug trafficking organisations.

Lie-detector tests

Morelos state's governor, Sergio Estrada, pledged to restructure the force to ensure officers were well-trained and respectful of ethics.

He said all new recruits to the force would face regular lie-detector tests, as well as drug and alcohol checks.

Mexico has a number of federal, state and local police forces.

Correspondents say police corruption is a serious problem.

Giuliani targets Mexico crime wave
14 Jan 03  |  Americas
Country profile: Mexico
10 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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