Mexico charges 14 federal police in attack on CIA officers

Fri Nov 9, 2012 4:14pm EST
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By Gabriel Stargardter

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico charged 14 federal police officers on Friday with the attempted murder of two CIA operatives after the U.S. agents' vehicle was sprayed with bullets in a brazen daylight attack that security officials suspect was ordered by a drug cartel.

The ambush was initially blamed on a case of mistaken identity, but Mexican security sources said the fact that police officers used AK47 assault rifles and were not wearing uniforms suggested a gang-orchestrated hit.

The August incident, in which the CIA operatives tried to escape the hail of semi-automatic gunfire in a dramatic car chase, was a major embarrassment for the government of outgoing President Felipe Calderon, who has staked his reputation on taming the cartels.

The CIA officers' diplomatic vehicle was peppered with 152 bullet holes. Their injuries were not life-threatening and they were quickly moved out of the country.

The attorney general's office said it charged the 14 federal police officers with attempted murder. "We're not discounting any theory, including that they could be involved with organized crime," an official said on condition of anonymity.

The 14 police officers come from the southern Mexico City district of Tlalpan and were already in police custody, the statement said.

Drug cartels often take advantage of low pay for Mexican police to infiltrate their ranks and put officers on the payroll.

"The reputation of our police was already at rock bottom, and this doesn't help one bit," said Maximiliano Moyano, a criminal lawyer who works on police corruption cases.   Continued...