Student becomes new police chief in Mexican town

The Brass Key | October 20, 2010 | Comments (0)

Marisol Valles, 20, who is studying criminology, has

yet to make an arrest but is being called Mexico’s bravest woman

She is a petite 20-year-old college student who paints her nails pink, has an infant son and believes in non-violence: meet Marisol Valles, the newest police chief in Mexico’s drug war cauldron.

The town of Praxedis G Guerrero on the Texas border has astonished Mexico by appointing Valles to head a police force in the heart of a traditional route for narco-traffickers.

The criminology student has yet to make an arrest but has already been hailed Mexico’s bravest woman for taking such a post in Juarez valley, a strip of about a dozen towns and villages where shadowy groups slaughter and mutilate police and civilians with impunity.

“The situation can improve if we believe in ourselves and believe there is hope,” Valles told Reuters. “I want to carry this through and show that we can do this.

The town’s mayor, Jose Luis Guerrero, said she was the most qualified of a handful of applicants for a job which in many parts of Mexico is considered tantamount to a death sentence.

The new police chief heads a force of just 13 agents, nine of them women, with one working patrol car, three automatic rifles and a pistol. Gunmen killed a local official and his son last weekend as Valles prepared to start her job.

“We are doing this for a new generation of people who don’t want to be afraid anymore. Everyone is frightened – it is very natural,” she told Mexican media. “My motive for being here is that one can do a lot for the town… we are going to make changes and get rid of a little of the fear in every person.”

Her force would focus on a non-violent role of promoting values and principles and preventing crime, she added.

The appointment has upset some traditionalists – bloggers have asked if there are no men in the state of Chihuahua – and raised fresh questions about the state’s capacity in an area which has seen an exodus of residents amid massacres, beheadings and home burnings.

Juarez valley, once a route for Apaches and outlaws like Billy the Kid, has been a transit point for cartels transporting cocaine, cannabis and other drugs to the Unites States, a stone’s throw across the Rio Bravo.

The Sinaloa cartel is said to be waging an extermination campaign against homegrown Juarez cartel members in the valley. Analysts say rival narcos have used “plomo o plata” – lead or silver – to coopt some police, army and politicians.

Source: Rory Carroll – The Guardian (guardian.co.uk)

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Category: The New Chief

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