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Latin America Blog

Veracruz police disbanded: many in Mexico won't notice

The Mexican city's 1,100-member police force has just been fired, with the Navy put in charge of civilian security. Many in Veracruz won't miss the cops, whom they distrust.

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Unfortunately, it would not have been the first time that has happened to me, or others.

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Crime and politics

Take this cover story that I did on the US-Mexico border. At the time we were seeking to find out how much “spillover violence” was a reality. We based the story in Palomas, among the most deadly in Mexico at the time. It sits across from tranquil Columbus, New Mexico

For that report I interviewed the then-mayor of Columbus, Eddie Espinoza, who talked about how "spill over violence" was a political ploy and that he was against having the National Guard stationed in his town. He said this was small-town America, not the site of a battle between Mexican criminals.

That might be true, but a couple years later he was arrested and accused of being part of a drug smuggling ring.

CNN had another example this year, from reviewing WikiLeaks cables.

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations demanded Mexican action in the wake of the January 2010 killing of activist Josefina Reyes in her hometown near Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Reyes was an outspoken critic of the army's presence in Juarez. She sought to shed light on abuses at the hands of the military.

But a State Department cable shows there is more to her story.

Reyes, according to the cable, was the mother of an alleged Juarez cartel hitman and drug trafficker. US officials concluded that information available to them "suggests that Reyes' murder had more to do with her ties to organized crime than her work with human rights organizations."

In fact, Reyes became an activist against the military only after her son was detained by the army in 2008, the cable states. She considered his detention a kidnapping.

Sinaloa cartel gunmen were behind her killing, the cable states. Her son, Miguel Angel "El Sapo" Reyes Salazar, is a suspected hitman for the rival Juarez cartel.

More than a year later, the bodies of three of Josefina Reyes' relatives were found dumped near a gas station.

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