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Mexican general makes explosive accusations

April 23, 2008 |  5:58 pm

In an extraordinary public airing of alleged police corruption, a Mexican general has identified several law enforcement officers whose criminal activities include kidnapping, drug smuggling and operating protection rackets.

Corruption accusations are nothing new in Mexico, but Gen. Sergio Aponte Polito offered details of specific cases and named more than one dozen officers, some of them high-ranking officials.

Aponte, who heads the anti-drug offensive in Baja California, made the revelations in a letter published Wednesday in the Tijuana newspaper Frontera.

The accusations, which cover two pages in the paper, touched off a firestorm of controversy. Legislators demanded the firing of every named officer, a business leader called for the resignation of the state attorney general, and Tijuana Mayor Jorge Ramos appealed for calm.

Among Aponte's charges: Baja California's anti-kidnapping squad is actually a kidnapping team working in league with organized crime; police double as bodyguards for drug cartel leaders; and former federal agents have coordinated the landing of airplane drug shipments outside Mexicali.

The general lists several recent incidents, including some high-profile kidnapping cases and the attempted murder in December of Rosarito Beach's new police chief. Aponte says the attempt was carried out by an assassination squad of more than one dozen officers from Rosarito Beach and Tijuana.

Aponte said corruption existed in every major Baja California city and extended from municipal departments to federal agencies. There were many more corruption examples, Aponte wrote, but he couldn't fit them all in the newspaper.

"What a shame for the society of Baja California," Aponte wrote.

-- Richard Marosi in San Diego