MEXICO CITY — Nearly 50 police officers were questioned in the disappearance of a top Mexican customs official in the port city of Veracruz, authorities said Wednesday.
The investigation targeted traffic police in Veracruz, where customs administrator Francisco Serrano disappeared Monday night from the scene of an apparent traffic collision. Forty-seven police officers were held for questioning by federal authorities.
Salvador Mikel Rivera, attorney general for the state of Veracruz, said authorities decided to question all officers on duty that night after viewing security camera video of a crash involving Serrano's vehicle. The video showed several police cars arriving. Serrano has not been seen since.
Veracruz is the nation's main cargo port on the Gulf of Mexico and is watched by customs officials for smuggling of illegal drugs and other contraband.
The action came as federal authorities this week detained 58 police officers in the northern state of Nuevo Leon for suspected ties to drug traffickers. Among those taken into custody were the public safety chiefs in two towns.
Police corruption remains a major obstacle for Mexican President Felipe Calderon's 30-month-old crackdown on drug cartels and other organized-crime groups.
Though the administration has sought to clean up and reorganize the roughly 25,000-strong federal police force, graft is entrenched in cities and towns, where officers sometimes moonlight as gunmen for drug-smuggling groups.
Calderon has responded by sending the Mexican military to patrol drug-trafficking hot spots. In a growing number of places, retired Mexican army generals and colonels have been put in charge of police.
More than 10,000 people have died in drug-related violence since Calderon launched the nationwide anti-crime offensive in December 2006. Traffickers have fought government forces and feuded with one another over prized smuggling routes.
Cecilia Sanchez of The Times' Mexico City Bureau contributed to this report.