MEXICO CITY – A helicopter carrying the head of Mexico's federal police was reported missing Wednesday, the president's office said.
The aircraft lost contact after it took off from a military parade grounds headed to an event at a prison west of Mexico City (search). Among those aboard was Ramon Martin Huerta, the country's public safety secretary.
Authorities reported the helicopter missing and began searching for it an hour and 20 minutes later, a spokesman for President Vicente Fox (search) said.
Fox created the Public Safety Department after taking office in 2000, combining federal police forces overseeing prisons, highways and borders.
A trusted Fox ally, Huerta was appointed to lead the agency in August 2004 after the previous secretary, Alejandro Gertz Manero, resigned to return to private life.
Huerta served as interior secretary for the central Mexican state of Guanajuato after Fox was elected governor there in 1995. When Fox became president, Huerta took over as interim governor.
Huerta worked as a college professor and was an activist in Fox's conservative National Action Party (search).