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January 23, 2007
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Police in border city of Tijuana issue sling shots as army check their weapons

The Associated Press

TIJUANA, Mexico- The police department has issued about 60 slingshots to officers in the violent border city of Tijuana who have been patrolling unarmed for more than two weeks while soldiers check their weapons, officials said Monday.

Municipal police spokesman Fernando Bojorquez said the slingshots, along with bags of ballbearings, were given to officers patrolling areas of the city visited by tourists.

Tijuana's police force of 2,000 officers has been without guns since Jan. 5, but some patrol alongside armed state police.

President Felipe Calderon sent 3,300 soldiers and federal police to Tijuana at the beginning of January to hunt down drug gangs. The soldiers swept police stations and took officers' guns for inspection amid allegations by federal investigators that a corrupt network of officers supports smugglers who traffic drugs into the United States. They were still checking the weapons Monday.

About 100 police demonstarted outside Tijuana town hall on Monday demanding they are returned their guns.

"The arms are our tools for work," said officer Juan Manuel Nieves. "Do they want more police to be killed?"

More than 300 people were slain in Tijuana last year including 13 police officers.

Calderon, who took office on Dec. 1, has also sent mopre than 20,000 troops and soldiers to states that have been ravaged by drug violence.

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