Gunmen murdered the recently installed police chief in the border city of Nuevo Laredo shortly before midnight Wednesday in a direct challenge to the new state governor's vow to end the gangland mayhem in the troubled state bordering south Texas.
Manuel Farfan Carriola, 55, a retired army brigadier general, was gunned down in his pickup truck as he drove from police headquarters to his home in the city that shares the Rio Grande with Laredo. At least two of the general's police bodyguards and his personal secretary were also killed.
Farfan was one of 11 retired army generals named to head municipal police departments across Tamaulipas state. He took office with the change of city and state governments on Jan. 1. Upon taking office New Years Day, Tamaulipas Gov. Egidio Torre had vowed upon taking office that his government would put an end to a "cruel, unjust and difficult" wave of violence.
"We know this is a new beginning, a new opportunity," Torre said, "because it being a new administration in an era of renovating the state with all our strength and all our will."
Torre was elected following last June's assassination by gangsters of his brother, the gubernatorial candidate of the state's long ruling party.
Mexico's extreme criminal violence, which has killed some 34,000 people in the past four years, erupted with the murder of another Nuevo Laredo police chief in 2005 who was gunned down just seven hours after taking office.
But Tamaulipas state had remained relatively quiet as violence raged elsewhere since 2006 until last February, when former gangster allies from the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, the cartels former enforcers, fell into bitter warfare.
The violence claimed more than 900 lives across the state last year, according to the government's tally, including 115 in Nuevo Laredo.
Farfan's murder comes amid a wave of gangland attacks on police departments from the city of Monterrey, about 130 miles south of Laredo, to the border. Last week the entire police department of General Teran, an town southeast of Monterrey, resigned after two officers were kidnapped and beheaded by gangsters.
By DUDLEY ALTHAUS HOUSTON CHRONICLE