- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO (AP) - A retired Mexican army general took over as head of public safety in the violence-plagued border city of Ciudad Juarez on Monday and a retired colonel was sworn in as police chief, as part of a militarization that includes 7,000 soldiers dispatched to keep the peace in the city of 1.3 million.

Gen. Julian Rivera Breton was sworn in as city public safety secretary to replace a man who resigned after criminals threatened to kill a policeman every other day until he left. Two such signs appeared on the bodies of a dead officer and a jail guard.

“All I ask is that the public continue to cooperate with us, that the public share their confidence and information with us,” he said.

Col. Alfonso Cristobal Melgar was sworn in as head of the city police force after the previous chief, Sacramento Perez Serrano, was shot to death along with three other police officers in February.

Hundreds of army troops arrived over the weekend, bringing the total number of soldiers patrolling the city to around 7,000,

More than 2,300 federal police also are on patrol here, said joint security operation spokesman Enrique Torres Valadez.

An active-duty military officer, Mario Hernandez Escobedo, was also named security adviser to Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz, who said the troops would remain under army command, but would coordinate with the city police force.

Following hundreds of drug-related killings, the city appears finally to be experiencing relative calm.

The city’s streets were thick with checkpoints and convoys manned by federal police, which irritated some city residents.

“The police are very pleasant and courteous, but I’m losing time in getting to work, said Rodolfo Terrones, 24. “I’m always in a rush, and then I hit this,” he said of a checkpoint where motorists are questioned and some vehicles searched.

Motorist Sarai Martinez Rosales took a calmer view. “Those who haven’t done anything wrong, don’t have anything to fear,” Martinez Rosales said.

Elsewhere Monday, the bound, tortured bodies of two prison guards were found near the Michoacan state capital of Morelia. One of the men had been reported missing three days earlier.

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