Mexican general gets 52 years for torturing, killing man

4/29/16 The Washington Post

San-Quentin-Prison-5.jpgMEXICO CITY — A judge has sentenced a general in the Mexican army to 52½ years in prison for ordering the torture of a suspect, then having his body burned, Mexico’s federal judiciary council said Thursday.

The sentence was among the longest ever against a senior army officer.

The council said the conviction came in a 2008 case in the northern state of Chihuahua. The judge also ordered the army to publicly apologize, clear the victim’s name and pay his family damages.

The judge in the case did not release the general’s name in the public case record. But the case number on the docket was the same as one linked in local media reports to Gen. Manuel Moreno Avina, who formerly commanded an army unit in the town of Ojinaga, across the border from Presidio, Texas.

Troops under the general’s command detained a suspect in a soldier’s death and tortured him for hours with electric shocks until he died. They then took the man’s body to a ranch and burned it.

The man was detained by soldiers just after midnight July 25, 2008. According to the council, the court found that soldiers “tied him up and watered him down in order to apply electric shocks on his body, in order to obtain information about the death of a soldier.”

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Hand of U.S. Is Seen in Halting General’s Rise in Mexico

mexican armyThe New York Times, 2/4/2013

As Mexico’s military staged its annual Independence Day parade in September, spectators filled the main square of Mexico City to cheer on the armed forces. Nearly 2,000 miles away in Washington, American officials were also paying attention. But it was not the helicopters hovering overhead or the antiaircraft weapons or the soldiers in camouflage that caught their attention. It was the man chosen to march at the head of the parade, Gen. Moisés García Ochoa, who by tradition typically becomes the country’s next minister of defense.

The Obama administration had many concerns about the general, including the Drug Enforcement Administration’s suspicion that he had links to drug traffickers and the Pentagon’s anxiety that he had misused military supplies and skimmed money from multimillion-dollar defense contracts. In the days leading up to Mexico’s presidential inauguration on Dec. 1, the United States ambassador to Mexico, Anthony Wayne, met with senior aides to President Enrique Peña Nieto to express alarm at the general’s possible promotion.

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To Root Out Dirty Police, Mexico Sends In a General

The Wall Street Journal, 12/23/2010

His grandfather was the cross-eyed cousin of Mexico’s legendary revolutionary Francisco “Pancho” Villa. Like his famous ancestor, Carlos Villa is a hard-charging general who is charismatic, foulmouthed and not afraid to use his gun.

And some say he is just what Mexico needs as it wrestles with the corruption and violence spawned by the country’s powerful gangs of drug traffickers.

Retired Gen. Villa is the 61-year-old police chief in Torreon, an industrial city in Mexico’s violent northern badlands—a central drug-running route currently being fought over by two of Mexico’s biggest cartels.

Since taking over as the city’s top police officer in January, Mr. Villa has battled not only the city’s drug lords, but also his own police force, which was on the payroll of a powerful cartel.

In March, nearly the entire force walked off the job to demand the general’s ouster. The mayor faced a choice: Fire nearly every officer and leave the city at the mercy of drug gangs, or dump the general and keep corrupt police on the street. He fired the officers.

“It was the best decision I ever made,” says Mayor Eduardo Olmos. “It’s not that our cops weren’t fighting the bad guys—they were the bad guys.”

Crime nearly tripled in Torreon during a summer that saw some of Mexico’s bloodiest drug-related crimes, including the massacre by gunmen of 17 civilians at a party in August. But the mayor and his soldier-turned-police chief are building a new force and seeing some success against crime.

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