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Gunmen Kill Mexico Police Chief in his Office

W460

Around a dozen gunmen stormed into the police headquarters in the northern Mexico town of Santa Catarina on Monday and shot dead the police chief, authorities said.

"The men arrived in at least two vehicles. They entered the building and assassinated the director" of the municipal police in his office, a federal police official told Agence France Presse.

The Mexican newspaper Reforma quoted witnesses as saying the men came to the office without knowing the man they sought would be there and only opened fire when the police chief, German Perez, told them who he was.

The police in the town near Monterrey have repeatedly come under attack, part of a massive drugs-fueled crime wave that has hit Mexico since the government launched a military crackdown on organized crime in 2006.

The Nuevo Leon state, where the attack took place, lies along the U.S. border and has seen running battles between the formerly allied Gulf and Zetas cartels, who have fought over lucrative drug routes to the north.

Some 37,000 people have been killed in mainly drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched the military operation four years ago involving some 50,000 troops and police reinforcements.

The operation has seen some major drug busts, and on Monday authorities in the northwest Sinaloa state announced that they had found a large, two-story underground lab, complete with an elevator and ventilation system.

The defense ministry, which announced the seizure, said troops captured 260 kilos of solid methamphetamines and 180 liters of liquid methamphetamines, without mentioning any arrests.

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