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Thursday, 6 March 2008

Cancun police chief of staff Wilfredo Flores Saucedo and his bodyguard, Alejandro Xicotencalt, were shot dead

Cancun police chief of staff Wilfredo Flores Saucedo, 56, and his bodyguard, Alejandro Xicotencalt, were shot dead in a department vehicle Monday night, Police Commissioner Adrian Samos Medina said. They were driving home on a busy avenue in the Caribbean resort, one of Mexico's biggest tourist areas. Flores was a former army colonel. Police had made no arrests and were still investigating, Samos said Tuesday."We don't know how many (gunmen) or who they were," said police spokesman Oscar Meza. "(Flores) had 15 bullet wounds, mainly in his head and neck," Meza said. "We can't see a motive. He works in an office planning public security. He's not on operations and has nothing to do with investigating drug cartels."
Prosecutor Bello Melchor Rodriguez said the assassination "has the markings of a narco-killing." Last weekend alone, kidnappers killed four policemen in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero; three were gagged and shot and another was beheaded. Police in Tijuana last week found the severed heads of three police officers and a fourth man. And at least 11 police officials have been gunned down this year in Nuevo Laredo, in the north. Police killings are rarer in Cancun, although the resort has seen a few civilian murders in recent months. Drug-related violence has claimed the lives of more than 600 people this year in Mexico. In 2005, more than 1,500 people died in gang-related drug violence. Killings and attacks on the Mexican side of the border prompted the U.S. State Department to issue a travel alert in January 2005 warning Americans about the spike in violent crime, including murder and kidnapping.
Although the alert expired a year ago, the State Department still cautions travelers about continued high crime levels, especially in Mexico City, Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and the state of Sinaloa. Earlier this year, President Vicente Fox — under pressure from the U.S. Congress and border state governors — decided not to sign a bill that would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin. The bill also would have allowed local police to join federal authorities in investigating drug traffickers.Drug violence and attacks on police have risen in the run-up to Sunday's presidential election; former Mexico City mayor Andrés Manuel Lpez Obrador and conservative Felipe Caldern of the ruling National Action Party (PAN) are in a close race for the presidency.



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