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Police officers in Mexico suspected in alleged rape

By Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs Editor
updated 8:25 AM EST, Fri February 22, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An Italian resident of Playa del Carmen says she was raped by police officers, authorities say
  • Two officers have been charged with rape and abuse of authority, district attorney's office says
  • Incident closely follows an attack on six Spanish tourists in Acapulco

(CNN) -- Police officers in the Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen are suspects in the alleged rape of an Italian citizen earlier this month, according to the local state's attorney's office.

The alleged rape occurred on February 12, when the victim and a male companion were leaving a night club in Playa del Carmen between 3 and 4 a.m., said Maria Antonia Salmeron, a spokeswoman with the state's attorney's office of Quintana Roo, the state where Playa del Carmen and Cancun are located.

The man, also an Italian citizen, decided to stop at a nearby alley to urinate. That's when the couple was intercepted by the police. Subsequently, the woman was attacked by the officers of the Playa del Carmen Police Department, Salmeron said.

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"(The suspects) detained her, and these young men caught (her) when she was in an 'inconvenient' state and took (advantage of the situation), or rather, took advantage of her," said Carlos Bibiano Villa Castillo, Quinata Roo security secretary, according to Mexico's Foro TV.

The victim, who is a resident of Playa del Carmen, reported the incident to police, Salmeron said.

Salmeron identified the suspects as Mardonio Guzman Gomez and Jose Manuel Enriquez Hernandez, who have been charged with rape and abuse of authority. Playa del Carmen Police Commander Ramon Bolainas Xicotencatl is at-large, Salmeron said

According to the government news agency Notimex, the police officers also demanded a bribe of 3,000 Mexican pesos (about $235) from their victims. When the police officers realized the Italians had no money, the woman was attacked, Notimex said. Gaspar Armando Garcia Torres, Quintana Roo's state's attorney, confirmed the bribe attempt.

"We were obviously very concerned after we learned about the alleged rape. That's why we immediately launched an investigation," Salmeron said.

The alleged rape happened only eight days after six Spanish tourists were allegedly raped in the Mexican beach resort of Acapulco. Officials in the state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, announced the arrests of five suspects a week after the attack.

Rape case in Mexican resort city puts violence back in the spotlight

The six victims were among 14 people victimized by hooded gunmen who burst into a beach bungalow in the resort town before dawn on February 4.

An investigator in the Acapulco incident said the suspects, all between the ages of 20 and 30, also stole cell phones, iPads and tennis shoes from the victims, who allegedly had bought drugs from their attackers the day before the rape.

According to a recent U.S. State Department travel warning "resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes."

The warning published last November says "no advisory is in effect" for tourist areas in Quintana Roo, including Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum.

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