p0203 BC-LT-Mexico-Violence 8thLd-Writethru 11-08 0882
Mexico: Former senior official under investigation
Eds: UPDATES with arrests of hitmen in Tabasco who killed a radio host
By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO
Associated Press Writer
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities on Friday detained a former senior police official suspected of aiding drug traffickers and an alleged founder of a vicious gang of drug-cartel hit men.
The announcements came on another day of extreme violence in Mexico. In the northeast, police mistakenly opened fire on a family of six, seriously wounding a teenage girl. In the west, inmates rioted, killing six. And police in Tijuana found three more bodies accompanied by messages that appeared to be from drug traffickers.
Police arrested Jaime Gonzalez Duran, also known as "The Hummer," in the northern city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas.
Gonzalez Duran is allegedly one of the founding members of the Zetas, a group of army deserters who went to work as hit men for the Gulf drug cartel. Federal Police Commissioner Rodrigo Esparza said Gonzalez Duran deserted from the army in 1999 and was a top lieutenant to current Zeta leader Heriberto Lazcano.
Also Friday, the army announced that it seized the largest drug-cartel weapons cache ever found in the country. The Thursday raid netted 540 rifles, 165 grenades, 500,000 rounds of ammunition and 14 sticks of TNT from a house in Reynosa.
And prosecutors announced that Rodolfo de la Guardia Garcia, the No. 2 official in the Federal Agency of Investigation from 2003-2005, has been placed under house arrest for 40 days as investigators look into the possibility he leaked information to the Sinaloa cartel in return for monthly payments in dollars.
De la Guardia was elected to Interpol’s executive committee in 2002 but was removed from that post by the Mexican government in 2004, the Lyon, France-based Interpol General Secretariat said in a statement Friday.
The statement said Interpol was never informed as to why the Mexican government removed him and said that during his tenure "Interpol was never given any reason to question his integrity."
It stressed that "members of the Interpol Executive Committee are national law enforcement officials employed and paid for by their national authorities. They are not staff members" of the international police body.
De la Guardia’s detention by the Attorney General’s Office was part of the Mexican government’s "Operation Clean House," which aims to weed out corruption that came to light after the January arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva, a reputed Sinaloa cartel lieutenant.
Former federal police commissioner Gerardo Garay and three other officials of the Public Safety Department were arrested earlier, though officials have not revealed the allegations against them.
In the past two weeks, the Sinaloa cartel also has been linked to four Mexican military officers and one soldier, as well as five officials in the organized-crime unit of the Attorney General’s Office, which oversees the agency that employed de la Guardia Garcia.
President Felipe Calderon has long acknowledged corruption among the federal police and soldiers leading Mexico’s anti-drug campaign. These announcements suggest corruption still reaches high in the ranks of law enforcement despite decades of crackdowns.
The Sinaloa cartel is one of several criminal gangs waging a savage battle for control of lucrative routes used to bring illegal drugs to consumers in the United States. Hundreds of people have been killed, often decapitated, across northern and western Mexico. The death toll among police is particularly high, leaving officers fearful and jittery.
In the northern city of Monterrey on Friday, police mistakenly opened fire on a family of six after confusing their vehicle with a getaway car used by armed robbers. A 13-year-old girl shot in the head and chest, said Nuevo Leon state Security Secretary Aldo Fasci Zuazua. Her father was shot in the shoulder and hand, while the mother was grazed by a bullet in the head. A 2-year-old boy suffered minor injuries and two other children, 4 and 6, were treated for shock and released.
In other violence, six prisoners died and two inmates were injured in a riot early Friday in a prison in the Pacific resort city of Mazatlan, the Televisa television network reported.
In the border city of Tijuana on Friday, three bodies were found alongside messages apparently from drug traffickers, Baja California’s state attorney general’s office said. Another man was found riddled with bullets hours later.
Meanwhile, prosecutors in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco said they arrested the suspected killers of a Mexican radio host, who was gunned down Sept. 23 while hanging banners to protest a wave of national kidnappings. The hit men worked for the Gulf drug cartel.
More than 4,000 people have been killed this year across Mexico as drug gangs lash back at Calderon’s national crackdown on organized crime.