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Old 03-08-10, 06:10 PM   #1
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Post Northern Mexico cops protest after ambush kills 3 (AP)

AP - Police in northern Mexico protested Saturday hours after three of their colleagues were shot to death in an ambush and a fourth was wounded.

Local police in the city of San Nicolas de los Garza, a suburb of the industrial hub of Monterrey, gathered outside police stations and shouted demands at their superiors. Police want better weapons, equipment and life insurance.

"We want our rifles back," said one masked officer, who would not be identified for fear of reprisals. He also said one of the officers killed in the shootout lacked a bulletproof vest, which some officers have gotten.

City spokesman Alberto Davalos said officers had agreed to continue working "under protest" while their demands are being met.

Video from the scene of the ambush showed the officers' patrol car riddled with bullets. The injured officer is in serious but stable condition.

State police said the killings were apparently carried out by a drug gang.

Police say they lack high-powered weapons to match the firepower of drug gangs. But many members of municipal forces in Nuevo Leon state — where San Nicolas is located — have been accused of collusion with drug gangs.

In June, the state prohibited municipal police forces from carrying personal cell phones, out of concerns they were using them to tip off traffickers about federal raids.

And some municipal forces in the Monterrey area have been stripped of their assault rifles, after incidents of local police confronting federal agents as they tried to arrest drug suspects.

San Nicolas Police Chief Antonio Gamino promised to stay in closer touch with members of his force and accompany them when there are confrontations.

Mexico's federal government has pledged to crack down on organized crime and drug cartels, whose turf battles have cost more than 17,900 lives since late 2006.

The crime wave has hit the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez particularly hard, and on Saturday federal police announced the arrest of three men accused of running an extortion ring that targeted Ciudad Juarez businesses. Police said they belonged to the violent La Linea gang, allied with the Juarez cartel.

Also Saturday, the Mexican army announced it had seized 2.6 metric tons of marijuana and detained one suspect in a mountainous area of Chihuahua, the state where Ciudad Juarez is located.


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