Amid drug war, Mexico homicide rate up for fourth straight year

August 22, 2012

Los Angeles Times, 8/21/2012

A study has found that Mexico’s homicide rate rose for the fourth year in a row in 2011, this time by 5.6% compared with the previous year — a fact that will come as little surprise to Mexicans who continue to be bombarded each morning with the latest stomach-turning details of the country’s drug war.

The new data, released this week by Mexico’s statistics and geography institute, show that 27,199 people were killed in Mexico last year — or 24 homicides per 100,000 people. The rate in 2007 was 8 per 100,000. Last year it was 23 per 100,000.

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Colonel in Cover-up Case to Be Tried in Mexico Civilian Court

August 13, 2012

The New York Times, 8/10/12

In May 2011, Jethro Sánchez, a 27-year-old engineer, was detained by the Mexican Army, and found tortured and killed. An army colonel was accused of ordering soldiers to hide the body to cover up the crime, and the case vanished in the country’s maze of military justice.

But Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the colonel should be tried in civilian courts, a decision that human rights groups say could upend the way Mexico deals with rights abuses committed by the military in the course of fighting the country’s pervasive drug war.

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Mexico Arrests ‘El Loco’ for Role in Beheading and Mutilation of 49 Victims

May 21, 2012

Fox News Latino, 5/21/2012

The Mexican army has arrested a Zetas drug cartel member for allegedly dumping 49 mutilated bodies in a northern Mexicotown square last week in a deed that was ordered by the hyper-violent drug cartels top leaders.

According to authorities, the leaders ordered their minion, Daniel Jesus Elizondo Ramírez, to dump the bodies and then hang banners around the country denying responsibility.

The announcement came at a news conference Monday to present suspect Elizondo Ramírez, who allegedly got orders from Zetas leaders Miguel-Angel Trevino Morales and Heriberto Lazcano to dump the bodies in the town square of Cadereyta, in the border state of Nuevo Leon.

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Mexican Army: First Time in 70 Years with 3 Detained Generals [In Spanish]

May 21, 2012

Animal Político, 5/21/2012

The recent detention of four high-rank military Mexican officials – two division generals in retirement, a Brigadier general and a lieutenant colonel of cavalry also in retirement – transforms an institution that was once one of the most solid ones of the Mexican state and breaks with a tradition of over 70 years in which the high military hierarchy (as a body) had not been involved in any scandal, much less questioned in its loyalty toward the Mexican state.

The case of General Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo, sentenced to 40 years in prison for his connections with the Juárez Cartel in 1997, translates into a damage to the integrity of the Mexican Army.

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Mexican Senate committees approve judicial reform to try soldiers in civilian courts

April 30, 2012

Justice in Mexico Project, 4/30/12

Two commissions of the Mexican Senate recently approved long-awaited legislation, which would fundamentally change the way in which soldiers believed to be guilty of violations of common law or even human rights abuses are processed.

If passed in the full Senate, Article 58 of the military justice code, as it is known, would establish that military personnel accused of crimes against civilians be tried in federal, civilian courts. The action was approved in both the Senate’s Justice Commission (Comisión de Justicia), and the Primary Commission of Legislative Studies (Comisión de Estudios Legislativos Primera).

Under current law, soldiers accused of crimes against civilians or common crimes are tried in military tribunals, if at all. The legislation has moved very slowly; President Calderón sent the initiative to the Mexican Senate in October 2010.

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Use of force will be regulated for Mexican Army, Office of the Attorney General and Secretariat of Public Security [In Spanish]

April 23, 2012

Reforma, 4/23/2012

The Mexican Army (SEDENA), the Office of the Attorney General (PGR) and the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) established this Monday the guidelines that their members will have to follow whenever they make use of force, detain criminals, respond to an attack or defend the national population.

Through a series of agreements that were published in the Diario Oficial de la Federación (DOF), each of these offices defined that the use of force will have to be the last recourse and that it will be applied in observance of five fundamental principles: strict necessity, opportunity, proportionality, rationality, and legality.

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Mexican ex-general once accused of narco ties is shot dead

April 22, 2012

Los Angeles Times, 4/22/12

A gunman has shot and killed a retired Mexican army general at a garage in Mexico City, authorities said. Gen. Mario Acosta Chaparro was accused in 2000 of ties to the Juarez drug cartel in northern Mexico, but later exonerated.

A lone gunman shot him three times in the upper body late Friday afternoon at a garage in the Anahuac district, on Mexico City’s central-west side, authorities said. Witnesses said the gunman then fled on a motorcycle, the Mexico City attorney general’s office reported. Acosta, 70, who survived a shooting attempt in 2010, is the second retired general to be assassinated in Mexico City in the last year.

In May 2011, retired Gen. Jorge Juarez Loera was shot in Ciudad Satelite, a northwest suburb. The outspoken general had overseen Joint Operation Chihuahua, a military-led campaign targeting drug traffickers in the northern border state of Chihuahua, where Ciudad Juarez, the violence-plagued base of the Juarez cartel, is located.

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Rights Abuses by Mexico Military in Spotlight

February 16, 2012

The Wall Street Journal, 2/16/12

Throughout Mexico’s drug war, the country’s military has shrugged off allegations that soldiers have occasionally tortured or even executed suspected members of drug cartels, saying that the majority of the charges were made up by zealous activists or the cartels themselves.

But three high-profile cases this month that are being investigated outside the military’s own secret courts have prompted the army’s top commander to say the military may have committed serious human-rights abuses.

One case concerns a colonel who prosecutors are investigating for allegedly ordering the killings of military deserters and the burning of their bodies after they allegedly joined a drug cartel in 2010. The two other cases concern military commanders who allegedly ordered the killings of civilians.

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Mexico’s defense secretary acknowledges errors in drug war

February 13, 2012

Los Angeles Times, 2/13/12

Mexico’s defense secretary has conceded errors in the country’s drug war, in one of the more frank assertions from the government as it wages a military-led campaign against violent traffickers.

Gen. Guillermo Galvan Galvan, speaking last week at a military event commemorating the March of Loyalty, also acknowledged that some regions of the country are not fully under government control, despite the deployment of tens of thousands of troops within the country’s borders.

“Of course there have been errors. Recognizing it is loyalty,” he said (link in Spanish). “In some regions of the country, organized crime has appropriated the institutions of the state[....] In these [areas] of the national territory, public security has been totally overtaken.”

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What exactly are the “mistakes” of the Army? [In Spanish]

February 13, 2012

Animal Político, 13/2/2012

Last Thursday, at the commemoration of the 99th Anniversary of the Loyalty March (Marcha de la Lealtad), general Guillermo Galván, secretary of National Defense, admitted that the Army has committed “mistakes” in the fight against organized crime, which began in the administration of Felipe Calderón.

In his declaration, however, he did not give any details on those “mistakes” that are, concretely: 33 civilians murdered, 225 tortured civilians, 20 victims of rape (17 women and three men), and three forced disappearances between December of 2006 and December of 2011. The latter information is contained in 82 archives from the National Commission on Human Rights. In addition, amongst these “mistakes” from the Army are those linked to the murder of five children, the torture of 10 children, the raping of two youngsters and sexual abuses against other two.

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