The killing of the police chief in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, across the Mexican border from Yuma, Az., last weekend has alarmed officials on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border and raised fears that the vicious drug-cartel violence that has plagued other regions may be spreading to an area that, for the most part, has been spared the bloodshed, the Arizona Republic reports. Luis Fredy Rodriguez Soqui, 40, a former federal prosecutor who became director of public safety two years ago, was killed days before the city was scheduled to be recognized as one of the safest in Sonora, the state south of Arizona.
He is the first police chief killed in Sonora in recent memory. "Obviously, this is some violence that hits pretty close to home," Yuma Police Chief John Lekan said. Until now, drug-cartel violence "seems to have avoided our neck of the woods, so it's a cause of concern." The fourth-largest city in Sonora, San Luis Rio Colorado is home to about two dozen maquiladoras, foreign-owned plants that take advantage of cheaper Mexican labor to assemble products for export, including a plant for Bose speakers. The city is also the gateway for tourists from Arizona and California who travel to beaches along the Golfo de Santa Clara. The city's downtown, located just steps from the border, is lined with pharmacies and dental offices. Many Americans shop, buy prescription drugs, and have dental work done there.