MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has for the first time appointed a woman to head the federal police, which is under pressure to bring the country's powerful drug cartels to heel.
Maribel Cervantes replaced Facundo Rosas as commissioner general of the federal police, the Ministry for Public Security said late on Friday. Cervantes, 41, is the first woman to take on the post, a spokesman for the ministry said.
The federal police have fought the drug gangs alongside the army under the presidency of Felipe Calderon.
More than 47,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since Calderon launched his crackdown in 2006 against the drug gangs, whose financial muscle has fomented corruption among the police, particularly at local level.
Cervantes, who received a degree in communication sciences, has experience in intelligence and counter-terrorism and has had military training, the ministry said.
The past year has seen a number of firsts for women in Mexico.
Marisela Morales became the first female attorney general of Mexico in March, and last weekend Josefina Vazquez Mota of Calderon's conservative National Action Party (PAN) won her party's presidential nomination for the July 1 election.
Never before had one of the main three parties picked a woman to run for the top job in Mexico, where presidents are restricted to a single six-year term.
Calderon has staked his reputation on stamping out organized crime, but the cartel violence has undermined his party's bid to win a third straight term in power in July.
The PAN trails the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party by a wide margin in opinion polls.
(Reporting By Dave Graham; editing by Mohammad Zargham)