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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 July, 2005, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Mexican city appoints new top cop
Nuevo Laredo police chief Omar Pimentel
Pimentel faces a tough task of restoring law and order
A northern Mexican border city has appointed a new police chief after his predecessor was gunned down last month, hours in to his new job.

A police leader was shot to death only hours after Omar Pimentel took over in Nuevo Laredo, near the Texan border.

The city is in the grips of a turf war between drug cartels which has claimed dozens of lives this year.

About 600 police officers are being investigated over alleged roles in drug-related crime.


Policeman Martin Gonzalez Quintero was gunned down while travelling in his truck, AFP news agency reports.

The murder came hours after the city's former police academy director Mr Pimentel was sworn in.

He has round-the-clock security.

"I'm not taking things for granted, you can never take things for granted," the 37-year-old said.

"I'm calm, we just have to have confidence in all that we are doing. I accept the job because, like everyone, I want a peaceful community. I am putting my grain of sand here in Nuevo Laredo."

His predecessor Alejandro Dominguez was killed in an ambush last month.

There are as of yet no suspects but investigators have blamed the city's criminal underworld for the killing.

After Mr Dominguez's murder, army troops and federal police took over control of the city.

The police force was suspended while it was investigated for links between officers and the drug cartels.

At least 89 agents have already been fired and about 600 others are still under investigation.

Mr Pimentel said he would ask for better training and higher salaries for his officers.

"If we don't want our police officers to deviate, then we need to give them better salaries because what they do is not easy work," he said.

Nuevo Laredo is a major transit point for drugs entering the US and drug cartels have been fighting for control of the market.

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