Pubdate: Tue, 05 Aug 2003
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2003 San Antonio Express-News
Author:  Jeorge Zarazua
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico - Drug tests were administered here Monday to more 
than 500 municipal police officers, firefighters and transit enforcers to 
further weed out corrupt personnel from the city's public safety forces, 
Mayor Jose Manuel Suarez Lopez announced.

The testing was another example of how this border city was stepping up 
efforts to battle corruption just days after it saw one of the most violent 
shootouts between federal agents and drug smugglers play out on its streets.

Three known narcotraficantes were killed in the early morning melee Friday, 
and six suspects were wounded and taken into custody. An unknown number 

That same day, Suarez announced the suspension of 198 municipal police 
officers that federal investigators suspect of taking bribes from drug 

Authorities said the names of most of the suspended officers were found on 
a list found at a safe house for drug smugglers, identifying them as taking 

Suarez said the city will continue to cooperate with state and federal 
investigators to prosecute those responsible and bring an end to the 
violent turf battles that rival drug smuggling gangs have brought here.

But he also asked federal investigators to be fair in their investigations, 
saying he didn't believe all 198 officers who were suspended were corrupt.

"We hope the investigation is quick and impartial, and that they let us 
know the results so that we can return them to the force or have them face 
their legal consequences," the mayor said.

Drug tests for officers are being administered by city health officials and 
will be analyzed at a state lab in Ciudad Victoria. Results are expected 
later this week, according to Agustin Garcia Arredondo, director of 
communications for Nuevo Laredo.

Officers who fail the test will be fired, Garcia said.

Nearly 200 state police officers and an undisclosed number of federal 
agents have been sent to Nuevo Laredo to help bring peace to the city.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom