Marisol Valles Garcia flees Mexican town after becoming police chief, says report

Twenty-year-old Marisol Valles Garcia listens to a question during a news conference after her swearing-in ceremony as the new police chief of the border town of Praxedis G. Guerrero, near Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010. Praxedis G. Guerrero was once a quiet farming town until two rival gangs, the Juarez and the Sinaloa drug cartels, began battling for the control of its single highway. (AP Photo/Raymundo Ruiz)
AP Photo/Raymundo Ruiz
Marisol Valles Garcia
Marisol Valles Garcia, file
AP Photo/Raymundo Ruiz

(CBS) Marisol Valles Garcia, who was called Mexico's bravest woman after becoming police chief of the small Mexican town of Praxedis, has reportedly fled and is seeking asylum in the United States.

A relative told Agence France-Presse on Thursday that Valles Garcia, 21-year-old mother and student, "received death threats from a criminal group that wanted to force her to work for them," and that she "went to the United States along with two relatives and will seek asylum."

However, an official from the town of Praxedis, which is across the border from Fort Hancock in Texas, denied that their police chief was leaving.

Town secretary Andres Morales told the El Paso Times that Valles Garcia had asked for some personal days off to tend to her child, but is expected to be back at work on Monday.

As for the reports of her seeking asylum, "Right now, these are rumors," he said.

After the police chief of Praxedis was kidnapped in 2009, and his head deposited outside the police station a few days later, no one stepped up to fill his shoes until Valles Garcia agreed to fill the vacancy.

"I took the risk because I want my son to live in a different community to the one we have today. I want people to be able to go out without fear, as it was before," Valles Garcia said during her swearing-in ceremony last October.

Valles Garcia's departure comes just a few months after Erika Gandara, the only law officer in the border town of Guadalupe, was kidnapped, her whereabouts still unknown.

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