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Mexico's 20-yr old police chief

posted 21 Oct 2010, 11:43 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Oct 2010, 11:46 ]
A 20-year-old female college student has been named police chief in a town near the center of Mexico's drug wars. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
MEXICO-POLICE CHIEF - The US Mexico Border is home to some of the most dangerous towns in the world. The drug war unleashed by Mexico's government in late 2006 has led to the deaths of some 29,000 people.

One mayor was stoned to death. Several police officials have died in the streets.

Now a 20-year-old female college student has been named police chief, in a small town near El Paso Texas, a town where policemen have quit and officials have been killed.

Marisol Valles, is the criminology student now turned police chief.

SOUNDBITE: Police Chief Marisol Valles, saying:(Spanish)

"I simply accepted the job because of the project. I don't know about the rest. I accepted it because I liked the project and I want to cooperate in it and I want to co-exist with my people, family and community."

The mother of an infant son heads a force of just 13 agents, nine of whom are women, and can count on just one working patrol car, three automatic rifles and a pistol to take on powerful drug cartels waging war over smuggling routes into Texas.

The area, known as Juarez Valley, has been sucked into the spiraling violence, rapidly becoming a no man's land where people are abandoning towns despite an army presence.

Residents have mixed views

SOUNDBITE: Resident Luis Miguel, saying:(Spanish)

"It doesn't matter if she's a woman or she's young. The experience she will acquire is more important."

SOUNDBITE: Resident Maria Hernandez, saying:(Spanish)

"No, no, no. She's too young. One has more experience with age, I imagine. I don't know."

The final verdict on whether youth can trump experience can only come with time.

Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters