Female Mexican Police Chief Fired

Young mother reportedly fled across the border after receiving death threats.

ByABC News
March 7, 2011, 9:14 AM

March 7, 2011— -- Marisol Valles Garcia, the 20-year-old who became police chief of Praxedis G. Guerrero, one of the most violent towns in Mexico, has been fired.

According to The Associated Press, the college student and mother was suspended today for leaving her job after receiving death threats for months.

It had been reported previously that Valles Garcia was seeking political asylum in the United States; however, Andres Morales, secretary of the county in Mexico and second in charge after the mayor, told ABC News that he couldn't confirm that report.

Valles Garcia did request a few days off to care for her sick son, he said.

An unnamed relative of Valles Garcia told The New York Post that the chief had left Mexico with her young son.

Valles Garcia, called "the bravest woman in Mexico," was sworn in in November 2010 as the head of a new program of crime prevention in a farming town located in one of the bloodiest regions in Mexico. Since her predecessor's head was left outside the police station over a year ago, no one wanted to fill the vacancy. Valles Garcia took the position.

"I'm doing this for my people," she said then. "This is not for me. I'm tired of all the drug violence."

ABC News tried to talk to Valles Garcia about her job in December, but was unable to. A person who answered the phone said her presence in the office is unpredictable, for obvious reasons.

The downward spiral of drug violence in Mexico has touched nearly every community.

"[Drug-related violence] could deter leaders from taking government positions, a very pernicious development," said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. "We have seen more than 20 mayors in Mexico killed over the past three years."

President Barack Obama met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Thursday to extend their collaboration on combating drug violence. During the joint news conference at the White House, Obama said that he would speed up aid from the U.S. meant to train and equip Mexican forces, but he also acknowledged that the countries should make a greater effort to keep that aid out of the hands of the drug cartels.

"We are very mindful that the battle President Calderon is fighting inside of Mexico is not just his battle, it's also ours," said the president. "We have to take responsibility just as he's taken responsibility."

The meeting came just weeks after U.S. Immigration and Customs Agent Jaime Zapata was shot to death in northern Mexico with a gun smuggled into the U.S.

The list of the dead has also included government officials, journalists, and community leaders. It's part of a "very systematic strategy on the part of the drug trafficking organizations to undermine and intimidate government officials and to threaten the community's organizational capacity and sever links between the government and the community," Felbab-Brown said.