MEXICO CITY — A Mexican official said Monday that federal police involved in the shooting of two American agents in August may not have noticed the diplomatic plates on the U.S. vehicle.
The official said federal police were looking for kidnappers who abducted an employee of the government archaeological agency a day earlier in the same area where the Aug. 24 shooting occurred.
The official said police focused on the unusual sight of a bulletproof sport utility vehicle traveling at high speed on a rural road, not on the car's distinctive diplomatic plates. The official was not authorized to be quoted by name.
The kidnappers later released the employee of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, who was found by police walking on a roadside in the area just south of Mexico City. The U.S. agents, identified by Mexican officials as employees of the CIA, suffered non-life-threatening wounds. They have returned to the United States.
Twelve Mexican federal police have been detained in the case and are being held under a form of house arrest pending possible charges.
The federal Public Safety Department said it has cooperated in the investigation and that 51 officers of the federal police have testified in the case.
"If the use of excessive force, a failure to apply standard protocols or involvement with organized crime is proved, the appropriate punishments will be applied," the department said in a statement. "No illegal act will be tolerated."
The department said that, since the current administration took office in December 2006, a total of 459 federal police officers have been detained for varied offenses, and 50 have been sentenced. It did not detail the criminal charges involved in those cases.
In the same period, about 2,045 officers have failed periodic vetting and anti-drug tests, and 302 of them have been fired. About 600 others are involved in the lengthy internal-affairs procedure, which could lead to people losing their jobs.
The federal police currently has a total force of about 36,000 officers.