It's easy to be a fake mexican cop!!!! And you can always use it as an excuse to rob someone!

Smugglers posed as Mexican soldiers

Mark Stevenson Associated Press Jan. 26, 2006 12:00 AM

MEXICO CITY - What looked like a Mexican military patrol aiding drug traffickers on the border shocked Texas police.

It was hardly a relief to the United States when Mexico announced Wednesday that the men were impostors: It meant that gangs feel free to drive around the border area with military-style vehicles and uniforms.

Mexico has become accustomed to traffickers disguised as cops or soldiers.

It's not just the uniforms; gangs in Mexico often use grenades and rocket launchers. The suspects in Monday's incident had a military-style Humvee.

Caps, vests and T-shirts with official-looking logos for Mexico's federal police are sold at street stands. Some cops even rent out their uniforms or patrol cars to shakedown artists.

"It's very easy to go out and buy military uniforms in a store," said Rodolfo Casillas, a professor who specializes in crime at the Latin American School for Social Sciences. "It's very easy to get (uniforms) for any police agency you want to imitate."

Rick Glancey of the Texas Border Sheriffs' Coalition said the confrontation began 50 miles east of El Paso when state police tried to stop three sport utility vehicles on Interstate 10. The vehicles made a quick U-turn and headed south toward the border, a few miles away.

Crossing the border, one SUV got stuck in the river, and the men with the Humvee tried in vain to tow it. Then a group of men in civilian clothes began unloading what appeared to be bundles of marijuana and set the SUV on fire before fleeing.

It was a tense confrontation at a time of rising anger over border security. The United States is considering extending a wall along the 2,000- mile border, something Mexicans bitterly resent.

Recent reports that Mexican soldiers and police have been crossing into the United States about 20 times a year have irked U.S. border states, even though Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff downplayed the problem, noting that in many places the border is not clearly marked.

Mexican presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar told a news conference Wednesday that "it is known that these are drug traffickers using military uniforms, and they were not even regulation military uniforms."

Mexico also confirmed its long-standing policy that its soldiers must stay away from the border unless they have special authorization.

A U.S. law enforcement official in Washington, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the matter is politically sensitive in both countries, confirmed Aguilar's account, saying the FBI and other agencies had found no evidence that the men in uniform were Mexican soldiers. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said both governments are investigating.

Mexico's Foreign Relations Department said in a statement that Monday's incident, in which shots were not fired, could have been staged to "damage the image of our armed forces and bilateral cooperation."

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