Mexican officials held for selling intel to drug cartels

Agence France-Presse | October 27, 2008

Mexican authorities have been holding 35 officials since July for selling intelligence to drug cartels, for payments of up to 400,000 dollars, the federal prosecutor revealed on Monday.

"Thirty-five public officials have been pulled out of the SIEDO (elite anti-organized crime unit) as well as other support staff. The process of the cleaning up and revision of staff and proceedings will continue in a permanent manner," Eduardo Medina Mora told a news conference.

The investigation into the SIEDO officials began in 2004 "after thwarted operations and a formal declaration that public service officers were passing on information from the Sinaloa cartel," said Marisela Morales, head of the SIEDO.

The Mexican government of President Felipe Calderon began a crackdown on drug-trafficking and related violence, including the deployment of some 36,000 troops nationwide, almost two years ago.

But the death toll from gangland-style killings has nonetheless escalated this year, with some 4,000 killed so far, according to national media.

Mexican authorities recently announced the arrests of several high-profile drug traffickers, including an alleged leader of the notorious Arellano Felix cartel, following a shootout in the city of Tijuana near the US border, announced Sunday.