Proposed Law in Mexico Could Expand Military Role in Drug War

11/25/16 InSight Crime

download-1A new law up for debate in Mexico‘s lower house proposes to expand and regulate the role of the military in the country’s decade-long drug war, a red flag to critics of the controversial militarized crackdown against cartels.

When presenting the new initiative, one of the representatives in favor of it — Martha Sofía Tamayo Morales — acknowledged that Mexico‘s armed forces have become “the main resource” in confronting organized crime and national security issues, but that “it’s efficiency has been limited due to the lack of an adequate legal framework…particularly during its peacetime role.”

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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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What’s behind Mexico’s military buying binge?

06/16/15 The Washington Post

Military Checkpoint in Juarez

MEXICO CITY–It started with 27 rail cars full of ammunition rolling down the tracks into Mexico.

That load of 30 million bullets was soon followed by fleets of Black Hawk helicopters and thousands of Humvees: in all more than $1 billion of American military equipment sold to Mexico within the past two years.

In a security relationship between Mexico and the United States often described as standoffish, foreign military sales have lately become a big exception. Admiral William E. Gortney, the commander of Northern Command, the U.S. military headquarters that deals with Mexico, testified to Congress earlier this year that Mexico’s buying binge represented a “100-fold increase from prior years.”

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Mexico’s Army Detains Eight Soldiers It Says Were Involved in June Killings

09/26/14 The Wall Street Journal

Army detentions Michoacan

Mexico’s army has detained eight soldiers it says were involved in the June shooting deaths of 22 civilians in a remote town in the nation’s southwest. In a statement late Thursday, Mexico’s Defense Ministry said the seven soldiers and one officer were in a military prison, but gave no details as to what role they had allegedly played in the killings. The defense ministry said the men had been detained “for breaking military discipline.” The detentions came after reports earlier this month in the Spanish-language version of Esquire magazine and the Associated Press—both citing an unnamed woman claiming to be a witness—saying 21 of the dead had been killed after surrendering to the soldiers.

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Mexico Imposes Military Control Over Major Seaport

Army detentions MichoacanThe New York Times, 11/05/2013

Mexico’s military has taken control of one of the nation’s biggest seaports as part of an effort to bring drug-cartel activity under control in the western state of Michoacan, officials said Monday.

Federal security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said soldiers are now responsible for policing duties in the city of Lazaro Cardenas as well as in the Pacific seaport of the same name. The port is a federal entity separate from the city.

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Mexican judge orders release of 5 high-ranking army officials accused of aiding a drug cartel

justice - gavel and bookAssociated Press, 7/4/2013

A Mexican judge on Thursday ordered the release of five high-ranking army officials accused of aiding a drug cartel after federal prosecutors dropped organized crime charges against them citing a lack of evidence. It’s the latest drug trafficking case against military officers started during former President Felipe Calderon’s administration to fall apart.

Judge Raul Valerio Ramirez said he ordered the immediate release of Gen. Roberto Dawe, Gen. Ricardo Escorcia, Gen. Ruben Perez, Lt. Col Silvio Hernandez and Maj. Ivan Reyna from a maximum security prison in Mexico state where they have been held since their arrest last year. The officers were charged with protecting members of the Beltran Leyva cartel. Federal anti-drug prosecutor Rodrigo Archundia Barrientos dropped charges in the case after concluding that witness testimony was not enough to sustain the case, Valerio Ramirez said in a statement.

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Immigration deal would boost defense manufacturers

Border fenceThe Washington Post, 6/28/2013

The border security plan the Senate approved last week includes unusual language mandating the purchase of specific models of helicopters and radar equipment for deployment along the U.S.-Mexican border, providing a potential windfall worth tens of millions of dollars to top defense contractors.

The legislation would require the U.S. Border Patrol to acquire, among other items, six Northrop Grumman airborne radar systems that cost $9.3 million each, 15 Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters that average more than $17 million apiece, and eight light enforcement helicopters made by American Eurocopter that sell for about $3 million each. The legislation also calls for 17 UH-1N helicopters made by Bell Helicopter, an older model that the company no longer manufactures.

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