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Mexico City Names New Police Chief

December 11, 1997

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A new chief was in charge of Mexico City’s judicial police today, after renewed questions about old scandals forced out the incumbent after just four days on the job.

Mayor Cuauhtemoc Cardenas announced Wednesday that Jesus Carrola Gutierrez had asked for a leave of absence pending resolution of the allegations against him.

Carrola started work last week as part of a team of would-be reformers but soon ran afoul of critics, who accused him of crimes ranging from the 1989 beating death of a prisoner to links to drug traffickers.

On Wednesday, he was replaced by Mauricio Tornero Salinas, a precinct judicial police chief. Carrola was assigned to a lesser job at the city attorney general’s office. It wasn’t clear if the switch was permanent.

The reshuffling is an early setback for Cardenas, who took office last week as the city’s first elected mayor in seven decades.

Cardenas’ election to the post, previously filled by presidential appointment, prompted an unprecedented wave of optimism among residents of this city of 8.5 million, where an average of 628 violent crimes and six homicides are reported a day.

High hopes centered on the theory that replacing the existing corps of police bosses would help eradicate the official corruption that Cardenas says is responsible for much of the city’s crime.

The mustachioed Carrola, who looks the part of the rough-and-tumble cop, has dismissed the accusations against him _ including a report by the Mexico City daily Reforma that he was linked to drug traffickers while serving in Baja California _ as ``politically motivated.″

He also denied any role in the beating death of an accused drug smuggler by police under his command in the northern state of Baja California eight years ago.

Carrola served as a Federal Judicial Police commander for Baja California that year.

Prosecutors have decided not to follow up on the 8-year-old case, despite a recommendation by human rights officials, according to Laura Elena Uribe of the National Human Rights Commission.

Carolla’s replacement, Tornero, is a 31-year-old lawyer by profession who took courses with the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration. He also worked as an investigator and social worker for human rights groups.

Tornero will direct the 3,500 judicial police officers who make up the city’s investigative police force.

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