Town suspends police chief jailed for gun running

AP News
Posted: Mar 23, 2011 10:26 PM
Town suspends police chief jailed for gun running

Officials in a small New Mexico border town where the mayor and police chief have been accused of taking part in a gun smuggling ring have decided to suspend the police chief without pay.

Interim mayor Roberto Gutierrez of Columbus, N.M., said Wednesday that police officer Derek Smith has been appointed interim police chief.

The town's police department _ consisting of a sergeant and two officers _ has been in turmoil since police Chief Angelo Vega and Mayor Eddie Espinoza were arrested on charges of smuggling guns into Mexico to supply drug cartels.

Vega's suspension was announced Wednesday during a tense Board of Trustees meeting, in which some residents spoke in support of the jailed mayor and police chief, while others were critical.