44 policemen are arrested in Mexico City Charges include rape, murder and extortion


MEXICO CITY -- In an anti-corruption crackdown ordered by Mexico City's new police chief, detectives arrested 44 city officers yesterday on charges that included murder, rape, extortion and abuse of authority.

Mexico City's attorney general, Samuel del Villar, called the roundup "an unprecedented effort to impose the rule of law."

Arrest warrants for some of the officers had been issued as long as six years ago but had never been served. A week ago, Police Chief Alejandro Gertz Manero, a former university rector who took office in August, announced that violent crime is soaring because organized crime leaders are defying attempts to end police corruption.

On Friday, he ordered about 215 city police officers whose names appeared on lists of arrest warrants compiled in Mexico City and three neighboring states to report yesterday morning to several police precincts and a downtown police training academy.

More than 100 officers who showed up were detained by scores of city detectives, many wearing masks. But only 44 of them were later identified positively as men whose names were included on the arrest warrants, del Villar said.

Most of the officers who were arrested belong to the city's Auxiliary and Banking Police, two government-controlled agencies with a total of 59,000 uniformed officers whose services are rented out to banks, corporations and wealthy individuals.

In addition, Mexico City has 35,000 traffic and beat officers, known as preventive police, and 3,700 plainclothes detectives, known as judicial police; none of those were arrested yesterday.

Pub Date: 11/24/98

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