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Police chief sacked over cocaine and guns theft

Guatemala's chief of police Baltazar Gomez (pictured) has been sacked after he was arrested over the theft of 700 kg of cocaine and a large stash of guns from a drug gang warehouse. Gomez is the fourth chief of police to be sacked in two years.

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 REUTERS - Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom fired his chief of police on Tuesday after the official was arrested along with the country's anti-drug czar in connection with a theft of cocaine and guns from a drug gang warehouse last year.

 Baltazar Gomez was the fourth national police chief to be sacked since Colom took office in January 2008 with a vow to clean up corruption. The firing was a blow to the Central American country days before a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
 
Gomez, anti-drug czar Nelly Bonilla and another senior police official were arrested on Tuesday and accused of ordering a team of 10 police to steal 700 kg of cocaine and a stash of weapons early last year from gang warehouses near the capital. Five of the police died in a shootout at the scene of the theft.
 
Gomez's arrest came two days after Interior Minister Raul Velasquez resigned following an investigation into the suspected embezzlement of funds by officials in his ministry to buy fuel for police patrol cars.
 
Velasquez was not named as personally involved in the scandal, but is the third person to quit as interior minister since Colom came to power. A fourth interior minister under Colom died in a helicopter crash in 2008.
 
"No one's job here is certain and all personnel, administrative as well as police officers, are constantly being evaluated," newly appointed Interior Minister Carlos Menocal told a news conference.
 
Colom has taken on Guatemala's endemic organized crime and corruption just as Mexican drug cartels are moving deeper into the country, pushed over the border as a three-year-old crackdown by the Mexican army squeezes their home turf.
 
Clinton will meet Colom and other government officials in Guatemala on Friday as part of a visit to several countries in the region. They are expected to discuss crime and migration among other issues.

 

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