Briefly: Mexican police replace airport security after shootout

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MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s federal police have replaced all 348 officers assigned to security details at the Mexico City International Airport in the wake of the June 25 shooting deaths of three federal policemen killed by fellow officers believed to be involved in trafficking drugs through the terminal.

Federal Police regional security Chief Luis Cardenas said the police agents have been reassigned to different states. They have been replaced by federal police who have passed intensive background checks.

One of the three officers sought in the shooting has been captured. Two others are still at large.

Chief Cardenas also announced a reward of $260,000 for information leading to their arrest. The rogue officers are suspected of being part of a smuggling ring that flew in cocaine from Peru.

3 women shot to death on road in central Mexico

MEXICO CITY — Police early Saturday found the bodies of three women who were shot to death with assault rifles on a roadside in the central Mexico state of Morelos.

The women were believed to be from the ages of 20 to 25, though they had not been identified. Two of the women had their hands tied behind their backs. One was wearing only a blouse.

The Morelos state prosecutors’ office said 15 spent shells from assault rifles were found at the scene.

Morelos is just south of Mexico City, and has been the scene of drug cartel turf battles involving the remnants of the Beltran Leyva gang.

In the western state of Michoacan, police found a total of eight bodies in two heaps on the side of a highway.

Four of the bodies were charred beyond recognition in a burned-out sport utility vehicle, said Carlos Arrieta, spokesman for the Michoacan state prosecutors office. A man’s dismembered body was found in several plastic bags near the vehicle.

Several towns away along the same highway, police found the bullet-riddled bodies of three more men.

The area has seen bloody fighting between the Knights Templar cartel and the Jalisco Nueva Generation gang, which is believed to be allied with the Sinaloa cartel.

VENEZUELA

20 killed as inmates fight to control prison

CARACAS — More than 20 people were killed in a prison riot as two groups of inmates waged a gun battle inside the penitentiary, Venezuelan officials said Monday.

The violence erupted Sunday at Yare I prison south of Caracas, and one of those slain was a relative of an inmate, said Iris Varela, the government’s prisons minister.

It was the latest in a series of bloody clashes that have erupted inside Venezuela’s overcrowded prisons and become a major problem for President Hugo Chavez’s government.

Ms. Varela told state television that more than 20 people were killed but did not give a precise death toll or explain how the riot broke out. She said that, as of Monday morning, the situation at the prison was under control.

Ms. Varela said two groups of armed inmates had been fighting and that those behind the killings “are going to have to answer for this.” She didn’t provide details about how the inmate’s relative died.

Carlos Nieto, an activist who monitors human rights in Venezuelan prisons, said an inmate’s relative who was inside the prison told him the shootout began during family visiting hours. Nieto said the gun battle lasted about four hours and involved groups fighting for control.

Mr. Nieto said the riot shows that the “most serious prison problem, the weapons possessed by inmates, hasn’t been solved.” He noted that less than a month ago, another bloody riot erupted at another prison in Merida state.

PUERTO RICO

Puerto Ricans reject constitutional amendments

SAN JUAN — Voters have rejected constitutional amendments that would have reduced the size of the U.S. territory’s legislature and given judges the right to deny bail in certain murder cases.

With 99 percent of polling places reporting Sunday, officials said 54 percent of the 805,337 votes counted rejected the legislative measure and 46 percent favored it.

Fifty-five percent opposed the bail measure and 45 percent supported it.

The referendum’s results mean Puerto Rico remains the only place in the Western Hemisphere where everyone is entitled to bail regardless of the alleged crime.

“It is a time to celebrate because the people have saved our constitution and our rights,” said Arturo Hernandez, gubernatorial candidate for the Sovereign Union Movement, one of the island’s minority parties.

Gov. Luis Fortuno and other members of his pro-statehood party lamented the bail change wasn’t approved.

“This would have been a great tool to fight crime,” Mr. Fortuno said as he thanked the families of victims who supported the measure.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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