Housewives combat Mexico drugs violence

ITN News

by ITN News

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Two housewives have been named police chiefs of Mexican towns near the US border that have been plagued by violence unleashed by Mexico's powerful drug gangs.

The announcement comes just weeks after a 20-year-old female college student took command of the police in another violence-prone town, where policemen have quit and officials have been killed.

Olga Herrera Castillo has been appointed police chief in Villa Luz while Veronica Rios Ontiveros will be in charge of the police department in the town of El Vergel; both are located in the municipality of Samalayuca, to the south of Mexico's violent city of Ciudad Juarez.

Herrera Castillo, a 43-year-old mother of five, said crimes such as arson, extortion and kidnappings that have become common in the area worried her but added she wants to help her country.

"Everything is possible. Although Mexico is going through a crisis right now, there is a solution. With the support of the federal authorities and Mexico's President, we can all achieve this. Although we are women, we want Mexico to pull through, starting with our town, our people, our children," Castillo said.

Rios Ontiveros added: "Now that we are taking on the job, we can carry out the job as well as a man."

The area, known as Juarez Valley, has been sucked into the spiralling violence, rapidly becoming a no man's land where people are abandoning towns despite an army presence.

Drug violence has killed almost 7,000 people in and around Ciudad Juarez since early 2008, while more than 31,000 people have died across Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched his crackdown on drug cartels in December 2006.