June 22nd, 2010
09:51 AM ET

Police chief: Cartels threaten U.S. law enforcement in Arizona

Nick Valencia

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/CRIME/06/21/cartels.threats/t1larg.jpg caption="Informants say cartel threatens off-duty cops who interfere with smuggling operations" width=300 height=169]

In the first public incident of its kind, cartels are making direct death threats to U.S. law enforcement officials in Nogales, Arizona, the police chief there told CNN Monday.

Speculation about death threats by cartels towards U.S. law enforcement has been widespread for some time, but this is the first time U.S. officials along the border confirmed a case.

The threats began less than two weeks ago, after off-duty police officers from the Nogales police department seized several hundred pounds of marijuana from a drug smuggling operation they stumbled upon while horseback riding in the eastern fringes of Nogales, the chief said.

The smugglers in the incident managed to flee into Mexico before they could be detained, Nogales Police Chief Jeffrey Kirkham told CNN.

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Filed under: Border fence • Crime • Mexico
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