Mexican Cops' Cellphones in Lockup

Police ties to drug cartels behind the ban

Police in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon will have to take their calls at home.

Beginning later this month, Nuevo Leon state and local police will be prohibited from using personal cellphones on the job, according to the Associate Press. The politicians who unanimously approved the bill Tuesday, suspect some cops use their cells to make deals with drug cartels.

 A cop from Monterrey, Mexico's third-largest city and site of a recent armed showdown between local police and federal agents, said his colleagues aren't happy.

"We patrol certain areas and we have a cell phone so the neighbors can call us if there is trouble," the unnamed cop told the AP. "If they take away our cell phones, they'll have to call the station first and it will take more time to get there."

A delayed response doesn't concern legislators nearly as much as police corruption -- an ongoing issue in Mexico's bloody drug war.

Federal agents have had their eyes on the cops since they came across an incriminating list of police officer names in the possessions of suspected drug thugs in May.

Since then, 78 officers have been suspended and 10 mayors have been accused of collaborating with drug cartels, adding to tension between federal agents and police.

That tension exploded Monday after feds arrested a policewoman, who they say is a member of the Gulf drug cartel. Local police confronted the agents with weapons drawn in a very public showdown that was contained before bullets were fired.

A ban on assault rifles was swiftly passed onto local police. A day later, cellphones were added to the officers' off-limits list.

The Mexican drug wars have taken the lives of nearly 11,000 people since 2006.

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