Latin America & Caribbean

Mexican navy finds fake uniforms for use by drug gangs

A mannequin wearing a counterfeit uniform seized in Mexico
Image caption A Mexican Marine poses next to a mannequin wearing a fake uniform

The security forces in Mexico have raided a workshop making fake Mexican military uniforms and body armour.

Officials said the uniforms were used by Mexican drug cartels to set up road blocks and carry out kidnappings.

They said the uniforms made it easier for criminals to approach their victims, who did not realise they were being targeted until it was too late.

President Felipe Calderon deployed the military six years ago to help fight Mexico's drug gangs.

Marines found the workshop in the northern town of Piedras Negras across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, after receiving an anonymous tip-off.

They seized hundreds of combat trousers and shirts, as well as body armour, some with the Marine logo.

A Navy spokesman said the find showed "criminal groups wanted to discredit the Navy" by wearing their uniforms while committing crimes.

Over the past months, the security forces have arrested a number of alleged cartel hitmen wearing counterfeit uniforms.

More than 50,000 people are estimated to have been killed in drug-related violence since President Calderon came to power and declared war on the drug cartels in 2006.

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