November 10, 2012 12:51 am

Mexico charges 14 police in CIA shoot-out

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Mexican authorities on Friday charged 14 federal policemen with the attempted murder of two CIA agents in a Godfather-style shoot-out south of Mexico City.

A statement by the attorney-general’s ôffice did not provide a motive for the August 24 gunfight, in which the agents came under heavy fire as they were travelling in their car with diplomatic plates.

At the time, the Mexican government said that the incident had probably been an intelligence mix-up. But subsequent investigations suggest that the gunmen may have been carrying out orders from one of the country’s powerful drugs cartels.

Friday’s statement said that the car carrying the CIA agents, together with a Mexican navy captain, received 152 impacts from bullets fired from semi-automatic weapons.

The two agents were wounded but survived.

The attack was a serious embarrassment for the outgoing administration of centre-right President Felipe Calderón. Since taking office in December 2006, Mr Calderón has made fighting organised crime a central pillar of his presidency.

But while the strategy has resulted in the capture or killing of 23 of the country’s most-wanted criminals, the murder rate has soared to more than 20 per 100,000 inhabitants from about eight when Mr Calderón took office.

That mixed record has pushed the country’s incoming administration to search for a change of tack. Enrique Peña Nieto, a member of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party who will take office in December, has vowed to put Mexicans’ safety before the war on drugs.

Drug-trafficking and the security issue in Mexico are likely to form one of the main issues when Mr Peña Nieto meets with US President Barack Obama during a visit to Washington on November 27.

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