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A Mexican Town's Entire Police Force Quits After Cartels Behead Fellow Officers

Federal Police agents escort Flavio Mendez Santiago, center, alias "El Amarillo," alleged member and co-founder of the Zetas drug cartel, during a presentation to the media in Mexico City, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011. Mendez Santiago was detained in Villa de Etla, Mexican state of Oaxaca, some 400 km southeast of Mexico City, on Monday. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

Federal Police agents escort Flavio Mendez Santiago, center, alias "El Amarillo," alleged member and co-founder of the Zetas drug cartel, during a presentation to the media in Mexico City, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011. Mendez Santiago was detained in Villa de Etla, Mexican state of Oaxaca, some 400 km southeast of Mexico City, on Monday. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)  (AP2011)

They felt outnumbered and outgunned by drug cartels. The kidnapping and decapitating of two of their colleagues was the final straw.

The police chief and all 38 police officers of a northeastern Mexican town have quit following a series of drug cartel attacks.

Soldiers, state and federal police had been deployed to patrol General Teran, a town along a notorious drug-smuggling route to the U.S. border, said Mayor Ramon Villagomez.

The police quit after the discovery Wednesday of the mutilated bodies of two officers who had been kidnapped by gunmen two days earlier.

The killings followed three attacks on the police headquarters since December. Gunmen hurled grenades and sprayed the building with machine-gun fire.

Villagomez said another police officer has been missing for weeks in the town of 14,500 people southwest of the industrial city of Monterrey.

Mass police resignations have been common in small towns in Mexico. Municipal police complain they are outnumbered and outgunned by Mexico's brutal drug cartels, who frequently stage bold attacks on security forces with semiautomatic assault rifles and grenades.

President Felipe Calderon has introduced a proposal in Congress to dissolve Mexico's more than 2,000 municipal police forces. They would be replaced by a single force for each of Mexico's 31 states.

Municipal police are generally underpaid and susceptible to corruption. Many only have an elementary school education. In some towns, police have protested that they lack bullets and flak jackets.

Villagomez said General Teran's officers earned around 9,200 pesos ($760) per month.

This is based on a story by The Associated Press.

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