updated 4/30/2009 6:04:25 PM ET 2009-04-30T22:04:25

Mexican authorities have detained 12 federal police investigators accused of leaking information to hit men who ambushed and killed eight officers in a failed attempt to free a high-level drug cartel member, the Mexican Attorney General's Office said Thursday.

A judge ordered the 12 suspects held for 40 days to allow prosecutors to gather evidence. Authorities say that a preliminary investigation indicated the officers gave vital information to assailants who on April 19 attacked a prisoner transfer convoy, killing four federal police officers, two federal investigative agents and two prison employees.

The 12 suspects worked as investigators for Mexico's Federal Agency of Investigations, the country's equivalent of the FBI, the Attorney General's Office said.

The officers were transferring Jeronimo Gamez, a key member of the Beltran Leyva cartel who was in charge of negotiating deals with Colombian traffickers.

Running gun battle
At least 20 assailants launched a running gun battle against the vehicles escorting nine prisoners between an airport and penitentiary in the Pacific coast state of Nayarit. As their comrades lay dead, officers returned fire and managed to deliver Gamez and eight other inmates to the prison. The gunmen fled.

Gamez is the cousin of Arturo Beltran Leyva, the reputed leader of one of Mexico's most powerful cartels. Gamez was arrested in Mexico City in January and was being moved to a prison in Nayarit's capital city, Tepic.

Meanwhile, in the northern border city of Tijuana on Thursday, funeral services were held for seven police officers assassinated in about an hour's time earlier this week. Two other officers and a convenience-store employee were injured.

Also in the border city Thursday, the beaten body of a man was found in a pool of blood alongside a road and police reported that they had found the mutilated body of a woman whose hands had been cut off. Her decomposed body had been dumped in an abandoned lot and was covered in plastic.

Thousands die in violence
Drug violence has claimed more than 10,700 lives since 2006. About 45,000 soldiers have been deployed to drug-plagued areas.

Elsewhere, gunmen on Wednesday killed a man and a 15-year-old girl who was nine months pregnant, and wounded a 25-year-old man in the drug-plagued city of Culiacan in the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa, according to a statement from the Sinaloa state prosecutor's office.

Doctors operated on the girl and managed to rescue her baby, who was listed in critical condition, hospital officials said.

Mexico has struggled to weed out rampant corruption among all levels of police. Scores of officers have been arrested on charges of helping the powerful drug gangs since President Felipe Calderon launched his anti-drug campaign in 2006.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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