(CBS/AP) - Marisol Valles Garcia, who was called Mexico's bravest woman after becoming police chief of the small Mexican town of Praxedis, has been fired after she apparently fled after receiving death threats.
Valles Garcia was granted a leave of absence from March 2-7 to travel to the United States for personal matters but failed to return to her post as agreed, city officials said in a statement.
A relative previously 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."
"In the absence of [Valles Garcia's] presence on the agreed-upon day, and since there was no notification of a need to extend the period of her absence, the mayor has decided to remove her from office," the statement read.
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.
Over the weekend, as speculation increased that she was seeking refuge, officials tried to contact Valles Garcia by cell phone but were unable to reach her.
"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 are still unknown.