Mexico’s top cop blames organized crime for killings

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s top security official blamed organized crime for the brazen killing of an acting federal police chief, saying today his death shows a nationwide crackdown is hurting gangs.

Public Safety Secretary General Garcia Luna said authorities would not be deterred by an onslaught of attacks against police as he presided over the funeral of Edgar Gomez Millan and two other federal officers killed this week.

Millan, 41, was shot 10 times early Thursday by gunmen who waited for him inside the courtyard of his Mexico City apartment complex. His two bodyguards were wounded.

The two other officers were killed Wednesday in a shootout with suspected drug traffickers in southern Morelos state.

The “attacks by organized crime against federal police in the last few days are in response to their interests being affected,” Garcia Luna said as he stood near the three coffins guarded by heavily armed agents wearing bulletproof vests. “But we will not be intimidated.”

President Felipe Calderon attended the funeral, hugging Millan’s sobbing wife and handing her a folded Mexican flag. He did not speak publicly.

Millan was responsible for coordinating operations — many of them targeting drugs — between federal police and the army. He was named acting chief March 1 after his superior was promoted to a deputy Cabinet position.

On May 1, he announced the arrest of 12 suspected hit men tied to the Sinaloa cartel.

Hours later, a federal intelligence analyst was killed in Mexico City by assailants who tried to steal his car, and a federal commander was gunned down the next day.

Police would not comment on whether the Sinaloa cartel was behind Millan’s killing, but said they were investigating possible drug links. Police were interrogating two suspects, including one of the alleged gunmen.

Since taking office in 2006, Calderon has sent more than 25,000 troops to drug hotspots. Cartels have responded with unprecedented violence, beheading police and killing soldiers. Drug-related violence killed more than 2,500 people last year alone.

In Washington, Thomas Shannon, the U.S. assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, urged Congress to approve the Merida Initiative, a US$1.4 billion (euro0.91 billion) proposal to help fight drug crime in Mexico and Central America. The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush wants Congress to approve US$550 million (euro355 million) of the package, the majority of which would go to Mexico.

“Central America and Mexico are facing public security threats of tremendous proportions,” Shannon told the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. “The leaders of the region have shown that they are committed to working together to put an end to the growing violence and crime, but their resources are limited.”