UPDATE: After being hailed as “the bravest woman in Mexico” for becoming a 20-year-old female police chief in a town where drug cartels had beheaded her predecessor, Marisol Valles Garcia of drug-embattled Pradexis Guerrero apparently crossed the border and is seeking asylum in the United States for herself and her infant son. Local officials fired her on Monday for not returning to work.
The college student had apparently been receiving death threats for refusing to work with drug bosses in the area, according to relatives who spoke to AFP news and she fled after an attempted kidnapping. Valles had been studying criminology in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s drug murder capital when she responded for calls for crime-fighting prevention ideas in Pradexis Guerrero. Officials liked her ideas so much they offered her the job, which had been empty for almost two years.
Valles was sworn in in October amid much media attention. She’d tried instituting a crime prevention program in the city, whose main road sparked a turf war between rival gangs transporting drugs north to the U.S. The county secretary says that as of now, Valles’ supposed flight is only a rumor, and that she is expected to return to work on Monday after asking for a few days off to take care of her son.
But one thing is certain: Drug cartels have not taken kindly to female police chiefs.
In November, Hermila Garcia, 36, police chief in Moequi, was gunned down by drug cartels there. In December, another female chief, Erika Gandara, was kidnapped in her town of Guadalupe, where she was the only police officer. Her whereabouts are still unknown.