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Mexican chief, 20, abandons her post, gets fired

Marisol Valles Garcia, who had been receiving death threats, traveled to the US last week and did not return to work this morning

By Peter Orsi
Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — A 20-year-old woman who made international headlines when she accepted the job as police chief in a violent Mexican border town was fired Monday for apparently abandoning her post after receiving death threats.

Marisol Valles Garcia was given permission to travel to the United States last week for personal matters but failed to return to Praxedis G. Guerrero as agreed, according to a statement from the city.

"In the absence of (Valles Garcia's) presence on the agreed-upon day and since there was no notification of a need to extend the period of her absence, the mayor has decided to remove her from office," the statement read.

Local news media have reported that Valles Garcia was seeking asylum in the United States, but there has been no confirmation of that and her precise whereabouts were not clear Monday.

On Friday, Chihuahua state Human Rights Commission official Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson said Valles Garcia's relatives and friends told him she had received telephone threats against her life the previous weekend.

A local official accompanied the 20-year-old police chief this week to the international bridge connecting El Porvenir to Fort Hancock, Texas, he said.

De la Rosa Hickerson and city officials tried to contact Valles Garcia by cell phone amid increasing speculation that she was seeking refuge, but were unable to reach her.

Valles Garcia was named police chief of Praxedis G. Guerrero in October. The town had been without a police chief since her predecessor was shot to death in July 2009.

Drug violence has transformed the township of about 8,500 people from a string of quiet farming communities into a lawless no man's land.

Two rival gangs — the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels — are battling over control of its single highway, a lucrative drug-trafficking route along the Texas border.

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