CANCUN, Mexico – The federal government detained Cancun's police chief Monday and brought him to the capital to ask him about the torture and killing of a retired army brigadier general near the resort city, Cancun's mayor said.
It was unclear if police chief Francisco Velasco was considered a suspect in the triple murder of decorated army Brig. Gen. Mauro Enrique Tello, an active-duty lieutenant and a civilian who were found dead Feb. 3 in an abandoned car outside Cancun. Mayor Gregorio Sanchez did not give further details on Velasco's detention.
The action came hours after soldiers stripped Velasco and his force of their weapons for about three hours to check the registration of the guns. With Velasco's detention, state police were temporarily put in charge of officers patrolling Mexico's top tourist destination.
Cancun's city government recently hired Tello as a security consultant to combat local corruption. He was asked to set up a new, elite police force to fight drug trafficking.
No one has been arrested in connection with the killings, but investigators believe they are part of escalating drug-related violence.
President Felipe Calderon told Excelsior newspaper in an interview published Monday that more than 6,000 people were killed in organized-crime-related homicides in 2008. It was the first government confirmation of the total number of killings last year amid a government crackdown on cartels.
Calderon said 90 percent of the victims were "people involved in some sort of crime, like drug dealers or hit men."
"There have also been innocent victims, but the truth is they are a very small part of what is an overwhelming statistic," he said.
Mexican cartels have increasingly targeted both active and former military personnel. The beheaded bodies of more than half a dozen soldiers were dumped last year along a main thoroughfare in Chilpancingo, the capital of the Pacific state of Guerrero.
The army is leading Calderon crackdown, with more than 45,000 soldiers sent to the nation's drug hot spots.
Since Tello's death, the army has set up checkpoints in and around Cancun.
Quintana Roo state, where Cancun is located, has seen its share of officials detained for allegedly aiding drug cartels, including a former governor sentenced to 36 years for money laundering and drug smuggling. Mario Villanueva, who was governor from 1993 to 1996, is also fighting extradition to the U.S. on trafficking charges.
Bundles of cocaine sometimes wash ashore in the region because smugglers drop drugs from boats or small planes for gangs to retrieve and move into the U.S.