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500 police officers replaced in Tijuana; Interpol liaison officer arrested

November 19, 2008 |  9:27 am

The Times' Richard Marosi reports from Tijuana:

Mexican federal agents and army troops fanned out across this besieged border city Tuesday to replace 500 police officers, the latest move by the government to purge the troubled force of corrupt and incompetent cops.

Last week, 21 officers, including two deputy chiefs, were detained on suspicion of having ties to drug traffickers and flown to Mexico City for questioning by Mexico's anti-organized-crime unit.

The moves come as authorities struggle to control a brutal war among rival traffickers that has killed more than 300 people in Tijuana since late September and left residents wary of large swaths of the city.

Despite past purges, the 2,200-member police department is still viewed by many as an arm of the drug cartels.

Officers have been accused of working as lookouts, informants, hit men or bodyguards for drug smugglers, and scores of them have been killed over the years.

Read more of "500 police officers replaced in Tijuana" here.

Meanwhile, the main liaison for Interpol here in Mexico was placed under house arrest as part of an investigation into links between officials and drug traffickers.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City