Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico police chief Marisol Valles Garcia loses job

Marisol Valles in October 2010
Image caption Marisol Valles is reported to be seeking asylum in the US

A 20-year-old Mexican woman who gained worldwide attention when she took over as police chief last year in a town plagued by drug-related violence has been sacked for abandoning her post.

Marisol Valles Garcia was hailed as Mexico's bravest woman in October when she became head of public security in the border town of Praxedis G Guerrero.

Last week she was reported to have fled to the US after getting death threats.

This has not been confirmed, and her whereabouts are not clear.

Local officials said Ms Valles had asked for time off work to care for her sick baby, but had not returned on Monday as expected.

The mayor of Praxedis said attempts to contact her had been unsuccessful, and he would take over direct control of the police force.

Local human rights activists told the BBC that Ms Valles and her family had fled to the US after receiving threats.

Responsibility

The criminology student attracted headlines around the world in October when she took on the job of head of public security in Praxedis after other possible candidates were reportedly too scared to apply.

At the time, she told the BBC she was accepting the role despite the risks involved because she felt Mexican citizens had a responsibility to try to improve security.

Praxedis is in the Juarez Valley in the northern state of Chihuahua, a battleground for drugs cartels fighting over lucrative smuggling routes across the US border.

Local police and officials in the region have been frequent targets for attack.

The town is close to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's most violent city, where more than 3,000 people were killed in drug-related violence in 2010 alone.