Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico's Tamaulipas state intelligence chief killed

Mexican Navy marines patrol in a truck on 16 July, 2013 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Despite a heavy security presence, Tamaulipas continues to be wracked by cartel violence

The chief of intelligence in the north-eastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas has been killed.

Col Salvador Haro Munoz was shot dead along with his two bodyguards.

The intelligence chief and his guards were ambushed in their car by armed men in the state capital, Ciudad Victoria.

Col Haro Munoz had only just taken up his post in Tamaulipas, one of Mexico's most dangerous states which is criss-crossed by drug-smuggling routes to the United States.

The security forces chased the colonel's assailants, and the ensuing fire fight lasted for more than an hour, officials said.

Gulf cartel

Tamaulipas is the stronghold of the Gulf cartel, which smuggles large amounts of drugs over the border into the US state of Texas and beyond.

The cartel also engages in extortion, human trafficking and killings.

Members of the security forces are often bribed by the cartel members, and those who refuse to co-operate are intimidated or even killed.

It is not the first time a high ranking member of Mexico's security forces has been killed.

Last year, one of the highest ranking navy officials was shot dead in western Michoacan state.

And in 2012, a retired general was killed in the capital, Mexico City.

The security forces have inflicted a number of hard-hitting blows against Mexico's powerful cartels so far this year.

In February, they arrested the world's most wanted drug lord, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, who led the Sinaloa cartel.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Analysts say the arrest of Shorty Guzman has created a vacuum at the top of his Sinaloa cartel

They have also detained or killed three out of the four top leaders of the Knights Templar cartel and made inroads against the Gulf and Zetas gangs.

But analysts say that far from quelling the country's high crime rate, these high-profile successes have ratcheted up the violence by fanning rivalries between emerging leaders.

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