Seven policemen in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas were detained Thursday for allegedly stealing relief packages intended for hurricane victims, the latest in a string of scandals involving the misuse of donated aid. The officers allegedly took hundreds of food aid packages Wednesday night from a warehouse in the city of Tapachula, on Mexico's border with Guatemala, Chiapas state prosecutors said in a statement.
The packages were destined for victims of Hurricane Stan, many of whom lost their homes in widespread flooding caused by the storm in October.
The two police commanders and five officers, who were being held pending charges at a jail in Tapachula, allegedly loaded the aid packages into official vehicles and planned to split it among themselves. In early December, four government employees in Mexico City were caught as they allegedly took 10 tons of hurricane relief aid to a private home, apparently for their own profit.
In November, an official in the northern border city of Tijuana resigned after 14 tons of relief aid donated by city residents wound up in the hands of political operatives of Mexico's former ruling party in Chiapas.
Also in November, a government regulatory agency removed the head of the federal civil defense committee from office and fined her US$170,000 (Ђ140,000) for approving questionable purchases of relief equipment in the wake of Hurricane Isidore in 2002, reports the AP. I.L.