US OFFICIALS DISCUSS MEXICO CITY'S LONGSTANDING CRIME WAVE WITH MAYOR

US OFFICIALS DISCUSS MEXICO CITY'S LONGSTANDING CRIME WAVE WITH MAYOR

A growing crime wave, punctuated by the recent murder of an American executive, has prompted high-level dialogue with top U.S. officials and a new anti-crime effort.

President Clinton's adviser for Latin America, Thomas McLarty, and top U.S. Embassy officials met privately with Mexico City Mayor Cuauhtemoc Cardenas late last week to discuss security issues.The visit was ostensibly to discuss the planned Summit of the Americas in Chile, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy said.

But local newspapers reported that crime concerns were also discussed by Mr. McLarty and Mr. Cardenas.

Few U.S. executives in Mexico can say that they or a family member have not been affected by Mexico City's two-year crime wave. The low point was the Dec. 15 murder of Peter Zarate, a Cushman & Wakefield executive.

The U.S. State Department last year advised U.S. citizens in Mexico to avoid street cabs such as the one in which Mr. Zarate was killed and to take only taxi-stand or radio cabs.

U.S. and Canadian government officials believe their embassies are being targeted by gangs who prey on foreigners in stolen taxis.

Last week, the Cardenas' administration announced the creation of ''safety corridors'' in heavy tourist areas like the historic center, and Polanco and the Zona Rosa - posh popular areas of the city that house many U.S. and other foreign business offices.

The city attorney general's office and local police will form 22 special units to patrol the three high-profile areas.

They are tasked with focusing just on taxi-related crime.