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Mexican police chief quits after gangster escapes

world Updated: Mar 29, 2009 07:15 IST

Reuters
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The police chief of the Mexican state hit hardest by drug violence has resigned after a group of armed men rescued a suspected cocaine smuggler from police custody, officials said on Saturday.

Javier Torres, the top officer in the northern border state of Chihuahua, said in his resignation letter he did not want to be a burden to the police force.

"The head of this department should not have any baggage," Torres wrote.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Mexico this week to underscore Washington's seriousness about helping defeat drug gangs as President Barack Obama announced a $184 million plan to step up searches for smuggled drugs, guns and cash at the Mexican border.

The same day Clinton was in Mexico, a dozen men armed with automatic rifles raided a Chihuahua City hospital where Crispin Borunda, a suspected drug smuggler, had been transferred from a local prison for treatment of a heart ailment, said a spokesman for state prosecutors.

The raiders overpowered guards and made off with Borunda.

The prison's warden and 16 others, including guards and doctors, have been suspended and are under investigation for helping Borunda escape, the spokesman said.

Gangland killings have become commonplace in Chihuahua despite a crackdown on drug cartels by police and soldiers, and the escape was just the latest embarrassment to Mexican law enforcement.

Mexico's most-wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, snuck out of a high-security jail in a laundry van in 2001 and now presides over one of the country's most deadly organizations, the Sinaloa cartel.

About 6,300 people died in drug violence last year in Mexico.