Mexico's top federal police chief quits

/ Source: The Associated Press

The top officer of Mexico's federal police force quit amid allegations that drug gangs had infiltrated senior levels of crime-fighting agencies, according to a resignation statement posted Saturday.

Acting federal police Commissioner Gerardo Garay said he was stepping aside "to place myself at the orders of legal judicial authorities to clear up any accusation against me."

Garay did not say what accusations he was referring to, nor were federal officials available Saturday to comment on the resignation. But the newspaper Reform reported Saturday that prosecutors are looking into whether the federal police assigned to the Mexico City airport had aided drug traffickers.

A top operator of the Sinaloa drug cartel was arrested in Mexico City on Oct. 20 following a gunbattle with police, and prosecutors say the man was in charge of trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine through the capital's international airport.

Garay wrote in his letter "that during my time in the federal police, my conduct has always strictly adhered to professionalism, legality and efficiency."

Garay took over the post after the previous commissioner, Edgar Millan Gomez, was shot to death outside his home in May. Investigators have said that Millan Gomez's crackdown on drug trafficking at the airport may have led to his murder.

Last week, five officials in the federal attorney general's organized crime unit — which is separate from the federal police — were arrested for allegedly passing information to the Beltran Leyva drug cartel.

On Thursday, the Reforma newspaper reported that officials had found a list of soldiers who were allegedly being paid to work for the drug lord.

And on Friday, the Defense Department said four other officers and one enlisted man are under investigation for alleged links to one of the country's most powerful drug cartels.

The scandals are the most serious reported infiltration of anti-crime agencies since the 1997 arrest of Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, then head of Mexico's anti-drug agency. Gutierrez Rebollo was later convicted of aiding drug lord Amado Carrillo Fuentes.

President Felipe Calderon has long acknowledged that corruption is a problem among the federal police and soldiers charged with leading Mexico's anti-drug campaign, but this week's announcements were nonetheless a major blow to his nationwide campaign to take back territory controlled by cartels.