After Long Fight, Groups Pry Memo on Migrant Killings From Mexican Government
By ELISABETH MALKINDEC. 23, 2014
MEXICO CITY — The investigators wanted to know who was behind the murders of hundreds of migrants from Central America who had been trying to make their way to the Texas border.
The response from the police officer being interrogated was chilling:
“I know that police and transit officials in San Fernando help the Zetas organization,” said the officer, Álvaro Alba Terrazas, referring to the organized crime outfit that controls much of Mexico’s northeast borderlands.
Instead of taking the migrants to the county jail, he continued, “they would just deliver them to the Zetas.”
The statement was contained in a terse memorandum from the office of Mexico’s attorney general that was delivered this month to the National Security Archive, a Washington research organization that seeks the declassification of government documents.
The National Security Archive and two transparency advocacy groups in Mexico have waged a long legal battle to obtain documents concerning the investigation into the migrant killings in San Fernando, a sprawling rural municipality in the northeast border state of Tamaulipas. The memo was the only document that was released.
It names 17 San Fernando police officers who were arrested in the massacres, as well as a dozen people suspected of belonging to the Zetas.
The Zetas suspects, according to the memo, told investigators that the local police force worked for them, letting the gang carry out its activities and “intercepting” people for it.
The brief account of the investigation was released in a country still shaken over the disappearance of 43 college students after a confrontation with the police in the southern city of Iguala. Mexico’s attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, has said that the police handed the students to a drug gang called Guerreros Unidos, who killed them and burned the bodies.
The release of the memo is a small victory for the archive and the two advocacy groups, the Foundation for Justice and the Mexican chapter of Article 19, which had been seeking to open government files related to one of the most horrific episodes of violence in Mexico’s long struggle against drug rings.
In August 2010, the bodies of 72 migrants, almost all of them from Central America, were discovered at a remote San Fernando ranch. Then, over several weeks the following April, investigators found 196 more bodies buried in mass graves in San Fernando.
The motives for the killings have never been fully explained, but gangs routinely extort payments from migrants crossing their territory.
“The good news is that we got anything,” said Michael Evans, a researcher at the National Security Archive. “The bad news is that we got so little. There have to be more documents.”
The transparency groups’ quest for information found its way to Mexico’s Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on the attorney general’s appeal of a lower-court ruling that the San Fernando investigation should be made public because it involved broad human rights violations.
“The Supreme Court will have to decide what’s confidential and what’s of public interest,” said Ana Lorena Delgadillo, a lawyer with the Foundation for Justice.
The foundation had earlier sought information on the San Fernando officers, and the attorney general’s office responded only that 10 of the 17 officers who were originally arrested had been released. Mexico’s police investigations and its court system are notoriously opaque. After prosecutors announce arrests, no information on trials and verdicts is made public. For instance, it is not known whether the officer quoted in the memo, Mr. Alba, was convicted or even tried.
And despite new laws mandating a transition to public trials by 2016, there has been virtually no move in that direction.
A version of this article appears in print on December 24, 2014, on page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: After Long Fight, Groups Pry Memo on Migrant Killings From Mexican Government.
calderon said municipal police were 100% in collusion with cartels in all border states and drug trafficking states. this is not news.
I have many posts on both SF and DGO fosas here on forum. I followed both very closely. around 500 bodies in total. they would have found more but they stopped looking.
as for the buses,the bus drivers were helping the zetas, still do. they make stops for "problem with tires" whatever. and the police often do not wait for buses to take migrants, they take them from the terminals "arrest" them and deliver them. also at poe when deportation occurs from us
The way I see it.... the more people that don't like me, the less people I have to please
Re: Another sickening admission of Police aiding cartels
The military was all over the highway between Victoria/Tampico and San Fernando as that is an artery that feeds both Reynosa and Matamoros. South of San Fernando in the Aldama/Gonzalez/Mante area the Zeta's had holding areas for the Central American's that were to be crossed into the US. The CDG was, and probably still is, trafficking people in the same areas as well.
When you traveled that area in 2009-2011 via bus there were always Central American's on the buses, sometimes a few sometimes several. At the Military Checkpoints the Central Americans would provide a number and or show a small piece of paper and they were allowed to stay on the bus, either a fix with the CDG or Zetas which I don't know. If they did not have the number or the small piece of paper they were taken off the bus at either one of the "retenes" and possibly at the INM (Immigration) checkpoint. Certain buses were either not stopped at INM checkpoints and or the officials would get on and not check and or would ignore certain people.
All during that time frame there was lots of collusion with all the authorities in the area. In the San Fernando area the Zeta presence was always more powerful than the CDG during that time frame. Certain groups of the military in that area had convoluted loyalties and that led to huge problems. I have always understood that the killings, and like Chivis mentions it was many more than what was found, were an effort to force the denying of payment to certain and or specific military groups. The "uncovering" of the killings was allowed to happen to bring the Zeta's down a peg and or supposedly back under control. The San Fernando, and points immediately south, have, and will likely always be, one of the easier areas for human smugglers to operate in. Thus the importance.
wow that's really sick.How do those cops sleep at night but I guess their families get fed not that it justifies it in ANY way.What if it were their family member.Whatever happened to that do unto others as you would like done to you?N/A I guess.