Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Mexico City: A Catalog Of Firearms Readily Available To The Public

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Video translation is as follows:

Reporter: Just yesterday the Cartel Jalisco New Generation released a video where one of their gunmen shows off the arrival of a shipment. And he appreciates the gift from Nemesio ‘El Mencho’ Oseguera. 

Sicario: Take a look at all this firepower you sons of bitches. Just look at how my daddy Mencho keeps me supplied. You bitches, we are the absolute Cartel Jalisco New Generation. Take a look at these little grenades that I’ve got here. Look at all this you sons of bitches. This is what I’ve got you for you dogs. Just look at all these grenades that I have. This doesn’t include what my battle buddies have either. Citizens of Tepeque can start running away now. We already know that you’re running away to begin with. 

Reporter: Only what is visible inside a vehicle tells you about the firepower of Mexican organized crime. The rifles are AR-15. Some with 30 round magazines. And at least another drum with a capacity for 100 rounds. Others have an attachment to launch low velocity 40mm grenades, what the hit man refers to as 'potatoes'. 

Whereas the balls are hand grenades that explode into splinters. How easy is it to get these weapons in Mexico, even in Mexico City? Today a WhatsApp user identified as ‘Escualo’ released a catalog with around 100 different firearms for sale and delivery in the Mexican capital.

Smalls arms around 20,000 pesos, long guns up to 110 thousand pesos. Like this tactical Kel-Tec KSG shotgun. Completely new or clearly old. As well as collectibles in useful condition. A miniature .22 or these grenades for around 40 thousand pesos each. The infallible 'Bulldog' revolver for 26 thousand pesos despite being used. The .44 Magnum like Dirty Harry's. Or the .357 Magnum like the one Rick Ryan uses in The Walking Dead series.

A drum magazine to increase the burst capacity for a rifle of 30 to 100 bullets. It is offered at 50 thousand pesos. Telescopic sights, flashlights, suppressors, Belgian, American, Australian, Chinese, Turkish, Brazilian, Israeli weapons. It's all here. In a portable illegal arms market where ‘Escualo’ triples the outlet prices of US stores.

Ciro Gómez Leyva: And these are not firearms to give hugs with…

Ciro Gómez Leyva

Venezuela’s Ex–Spy Chief Caught After Years Disguised in Wigs and Fake Mustaches

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

The DEA finally caught up with Hugo Carvajal, the former military intelligence chief of the regime of President Hugo Chávez, in Spain.


Hugo Carvajal, Venezuela's former military intelligence chief, was captured inside a house in Madrid, Spain earlier this month.

Like any good spy, Hugo Carvajal had a bag full of tricks. Every three months, he moved to a new safe house. When the time came to move to the next one, or he wanted a breath of fresh air, the bald 61-year-old allegedly wore wigs and a fake mustache, and to be extra sure, he even underwent plastic surgery to alter his appearance.  

For two years, it worked. Not even a $10 million reward offered by the U.S. State Department was able to bring in the former head of Venezuela’s top intelligence agency, who is wanted on drug trafficking and narcoterrorism charges. 

But then, on September 9, his number was up. Carvajal was captured inside a house in Madrid after Spanish police, accompanied by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, rammed through a fortified door and found him in a back room wielding a knife in a final act of desperation. 

Now, Carvajal appears destined to be extradited to the U.S., where he will be forced to decide to either cooperate with the DEA in its ongoing investigation of high-level Venezuelan officials or potentially spend the rest of his life in prison. 

The outcome of the case could have a chilling effect on Venezuela, where other regime officials are likely watching closely to see what kind of deal Carvajal might strike as they consider whether to remain loyal to President Nicolás Maduro or to jump ship. 

In addition to the drug trafficking charges filed in 2011, Carvajal also faces narcoterrorism charges presented in March 2020 against him and a cadre of top Venezuelan officials, including Maduro, called the Cartel of the Suns, a reference to the sun patch on military uniforms. The group conspired “to flood the United States with cocaine in order to undermine the health and wellbeing of our nation,” according to prosecutors. 

“It'll send signals to other regime officials whether or not they could gain anything from sticking their necks out on behalf of the transition,” said Michael McCarthy, CEO of CaracasWire, a consultancy firm focused on Venezuela, referring to a proposed transition of power that would lead to a new government. 

“Obviously, Maduro would prefer that Carvajal stay in hiding or just fall off the map,” he added.

Carvajal rose through the ranks of the Venezuelan army thanks to a friendship with former President Hugo Chávez that began in the early ’80s when the two met at the military academy in the capital Caracas. After Chávez became president in 2002, he appointed Carvajal director of military intelligence. 

In 2008, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Carvajal, accusing him of providing assistance to the guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, including “protecting drug shipments from seizure by Venezuelan anti-narcotics authorities and providing weapons.” But inside Venezuela, Carvajal suffered little from the sanctions. 

Unbeknownst to him, however, U.S. prosecutors raised the stakes in 2011 by indicting him under seal on drug trafficking charges. In 2014, a year after Chávez died from cancer and was succeeded by Maduro, Carvajal was appointed as consul to nearby Aruba, a territory of the Netherlands. He was arrested on the island on a U.S. warrant stemming from the indictment. The Dutch government had not yet accepted his diplomatic credentials, but under heavy pressure from Venezuela, they decided to recognize his immunity, leading to his release. 

Although Carvajal, who received a hero’s welcome upon his return to Venezuela, was free, it was now clear that he was a wanted man who was safe within Venezuelan borders, but unsure how long that would last.

Come 2019, it suddenly appeared that Maduro could be on his way out, and so could be Carvajal’s protection. Amid a wave of anti-government protests, the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, declared himself president with the support of the U.S. Weeks later, Carvajal turned on Maduro and announced his support for the transitional government. 

“Carvajal knew when the Guaidó presidency began that he already had people on his back in the context of the United States seeking his extradition,” said McCarthy.

“I think that Carvajal thought that the only way that he could lower the charges is by going all-in in favor of the transition,” he added. 

But despite heavy pressure, Maduro remained in power. Within months of his declaration, Carvajal reappeared in Spain, where he traveled under an assumed name. The U.S. then requested his extradition but was denied by a court that deemed the charges politically motivated. That decision was later overturned.

By then, however, the spymaster had gone underground, successfully evading capture for two years, until the DEA tracked him down again. 

Carvajal has vehemently denied all charges, saying in a statement released this May that they are politically motivated lies and that he will continue to fight for justice. His extradition to the U.S. is pending the resolution of an asylum request he previously filed in Spain.


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Mexico's UIF Files Lawsuit Against Garcia Luna in Miami to Seize Real Estate & Assets

"Socalj" for Borderland Beat

Mexico has launched a lawsuit in Miami, Florida against former security chief Genaro Garcia Luna and a network of companies run by him and his associates, hoping to recover illegally obtained assets, Mexico's Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) said on Tuesday.

Ex-Security Minister Garcia Luna pled not guilty last year to U.S. charges involving a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme allegedly designed to boost the Sinaloa cartel once headed by jailed drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Garcia Luna led Mexico's Federal Investigation Agency from 2001 to 2005, was secretary of public security from 2006 to 2012, and was once considered a leader in Mexico's efforts to combat drug trafficking.

But U.S. prosecutors say the Sinaloa cartel bribed Garcia Luna throughout his time in government to ensure safe passage for its drugs, obtain information about rival cartels, and learn about Mexican probes into its activities.

The UIF said the lawsuit, the Mexican agency's first in the United States, covers 39 companies and trusts belonging to Garcia Luna, his associates, or family members. "The litigation alleges that the defendants are members of a large group of companies created and used by Garcia Luna and his co-conspirators to hide resources derived from acts of corruption," UIF said in a statement.

Garcia Luna could not be immediately reached for comment. Garcia Luna, who is in jail, had been living in Florida prior to his December 2019 arrest in Dallas.

UIF said the case was presented in a Florida court since the state is "where a significant number of companies and properties associated with acts of political corruption and money laundering that make up the litigation were identified".

Source Reuters

Culiacán, Sinaloa: Shooting Between Prisoners In Culiacan Prison Leaves Three Dead And One Injured

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

One of the inmates who died was identified as Basilio Guadalupe, 41, who belonged to a group of narcos who operated in the Costa Rican syndicate.

In addition, one of the prisoners who fired is identified and a gun was discovered. 

On Saturday night there was a shooting between prisoners linked to drug trafficking in one of the cells of the Culiacán prison, in Sinaloa.

This fact left three inmates dead and one more was injured, reported the head of the State Secretariat of Public Security, Cristóbal Castañeda Camarillo.

He also added that the shooting took place around 9:00 p.m. on Saturday in a cell in module 8 of the prison where federal prisoners are located.

A quarrel arises during which one of the inmates pulls out a gun and starts firing. Unfortunately, two people are dead and two injured," Castañeda Camarillo explained.

They had to use tear gas to control the prisoners

However, he pointed out that in the early hours of Sunday one of the wounded died in a hospital in the city.

He also added that there was no escape attempt and after the fight one of the groups of prisoners barricaded himself, they had to use tear gas to control them. In addition, one of the prisoners who fired is identified and a gun was discovered.

Police revealed that one of the inmates who died was identified as Basilio Guadalupe, 41, who belonged to a group of narcos who operated in the Costa Rican syndicate, who was arrested for selling drugs and for the murder of four people who were also buried clandestinely in 2005.

This gang, police said, was linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.

El Imparcial

Zacatecas, ZAC: State Authorities Dismantle Another Armed Criminal Cell

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Elements of the State Police and Conase managed to arrest nine people, three of them minors

The operations were carried out in the state capital, achieving the arrest of nine people. 

The Secretariat of Public Security of the State of Zacatecas (SSP) and the National Anti-Kidnapping Coordination (Conase) arrested nine people for carrying weapons and seized ammunition, communication equipment and three vehicles, two of which had a theft report, in operations deployed in the Zacatecan capital.

On Tuesday, through a statement, the Ministry of Public Security revealed that with actions to follow up on the monitoring of the Control, Command, Communications and Computing Center (C5), the lines of investigation followed by the SSP, an intelligence operation was launched using investigation techniques, cabinet and field work, warning of the presence of a white Dodge Dart vehicle on Paseo Díaz Ordaz, in the Zacatecan capital. The Metropolitan Police personnel managed to intercept them and once detaining the crew they took an evasive attitude and tried to escape.

After a chase, they managed to secure the vehicle and arrest four people (one woman and three men), all of legal age, who were carrying short firearms each,a 9 millimeters and .40 caliber pistol. 

In addition, 24 rounds, communication equipment and a Dodge vehicle, from a management company, were secured.

In a second action, after reporting the presence of armed people circulating in a Nissan Tiida, in the Alma Obrera neighborhood, an operation was implemented for their search, involving elements of reaction and intelligence in field investigation.

By managing to locate the unit and repel an aggression, two men were arrested, who were in possession of five 74.62 x 39 magazines and the Nissan Tiida vehicle was secured, which had a report of theft; the other aggressors managed to escape.

Likewise, in intelligence and mobility actions, a grey Chevrolet Beat, was identified as the operating unit of that same criminal cell, so an operation was implemented through which, in the Barro Sierra neighborhood also in Zacatecas, it was possible to locate that unit and arrest three more men, who were in possession of a .223 firearm. The vehicle was also seized. 

El Sol de Zacatecas

Tyler, Texas: Smith County Deputy Accessed Secure Database To Assist Drug Trafficker From Mexico

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

A Smith County deputy is accused of using his unique login information to access a secure database to assist a drug trafficking operation from Mexico, according to an arrest warrant obtained by KETK News.

28-year-old Luis A. Sandoval was arrested back in August and charged with misuse of official information. It came after a months-long investigation by the East Texas Anti-Gang Task Force.

He had been employed with the department from November 2017 to August 2021.

The warrant alleged that Sandoval received a text message from a phone in Mexico asking him to run the driver’s license of a man trying to cross back into the U.S. who was a known drug dealer.

The warrant included excerpts from multiple text messages from July 2 to July 3 that had to be translated from Spanish. One of them read:

“I don’t know if you can do this, but I have a friend who moves drugs so what happened was my friend, they got his truck, they got him with a bunch of drugs, now the truck’s over here, and he hasn’t crossed. His mom and wife are crossing, we need to find out if this dude has an arrest report so I need you to check that because he sent me the dude’s ID, if you could check it out for me.”

Text from Mexico to Luis Sandoval

Another text sent later in the day to Sandoval said “I will deposit for you. Look, there’s nothing going to be wrong. I’ll erase it once I show it to him.”

Sandoval agreed and searched the Texas Crime Information Center that is used to lookup warrants and criminal history, which can only be accessed through a unique login given to each peace officer. He texted back the friend that the man, Martin Manriquez, had no active warrants for his arrest.

The Texas Penal Code has two requirements to violating the statute of misuse of official information that Sandoval is charged with:

Discloses information from his employment for a nongovernment purpose

The information has not been made public

The warrant alleged that Sandoval violated this section because the information was accessed from a secure database that is not available to the general public.

Sandoval was booked on a $250,000 bond, which he posted one day later. He is facing up to 10 years in prison, if convicted.

Sandoval is not the only Smith County law enforcement officer in hot water recently. Last week, former Smith County Pct. 2 Constable Joshua Black was convicted of official oppression and sentenced to six months in jail. He was also removed from office by court order.

Commissioners will be meeting Tuesday to discuss his replacement. Black is also facing a second official oppression charge and two misdemeanor prostitution allegations.


The FBI Investigated A Douglas Cop For Allegedly Aiding Drug Traffickers

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

A copy of former Douglas Police Department Officer Miguel Gutierrez' driver's license. 

A police officer in Douglas, Arizona, resigned last year after he was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for allegedly colluding with drug traffickers on the U.S-Mexico border, Phoenix New Times has learned. 

Back in February 2019, the former officer, Miguel Gutierrez, was interviewed by FBI investigators after the agency received — and "corroborated" — information from confidential informants that Gutierrez was giving law enforcement intelligence to drug traffickers. New Times obtained the case notes from the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZ POST) through a public records request. 

The basis for the FBI's interest in Gutierrez came from a few different angles. It had received reports that Gutierrez was passing along information about the activities of Douglas Police Department detectives to members of drug trafficking organizations in Mexico. Gutierrez had also been in a sexual relationship with a woman identified in the records as "Ms. E" who had previously been caught with a "load of cocaine" in her car by Arizona state troopers. A forensic analysis of the woman's cellphone found "concerning" messages, including an image of a police report that Gutierrez sent to the woman. 

On a different occasion, Douglas police officers found a significant "load of marijuana" inside Ms. E's vehicle while it was parked at a Food City parking lot. According to a Douglas Police Department incident report obtained through a public records request, a lieutenant was tipped off by a confidential informant that the car, a gold Chevy Avalanche, was packed with marijuana and had entered Douglas from Agua Prieta, Sonora, which is located just across the border. 

After the car was located and a police K-9 allegedly detected illegal drugs, the car was torn apart, whereupon officers found 199 separate packages of marijuana amounting to roughly 222 pounds inside the tires, gas tank, and paneling of the vehicle. Gutierrez allegedly stayed with the car "all night" while it was processed and asked questions about the weight of the marijuana and how they found the car before driving to Mexico 15 minutes after ending his shift, according to the AZ POST case notes. 

These activities furthered the FBI's suspicions of possible facilitation of illegal activity by Gutierrez, per the records. 

While the FBI investigators told Gutierrez during the February 2019 interview that the evidence "didn't look good for him," the agency has not charged Gutierrez with any crime, the records state. However, a Douglas Police Department internal investigation based on the FBI probe found that Gutierrez violated a number of agency policies, including dishonesty and associating with individuals suspected of criminal activity. 

On April 29, 2020, Douglas Police Chief Kraig Fullen sent Gutierrez a memo stating that it was his "intent" to fire him due to the probe's findings. But Gutierrez preempted the termination by resigning on May 4, 2020. The Douglas Police Department then forwarded the case to AZ POST; the board started the process of decertifying Gutierrez as a police officer last July. 

When contacted for comment, Brooke Brennan, a spokesperson for the FBI's Phoenix field office, referred New Times to the Douglas Police Department. She did not respond to an additional request for comment. Donald Huish, the mayor of Douglas, wrote in an email that he has "no knowledge" of the situation. Chief Fullen declined to comment: "We do not discuss disciplinary matters regarding current or former employees," he wrote in an email. 

During his interview with the FBI investigators, Gutierrez denied any collusion with drug traffickers or having any knowledge of criminal activity associated with Ms. E. He claimed that he sent her an image of a police report because he wanted to show her that he was "busy at work writing reports" and that she never asked for the document. Gutierrez also said that he had met Ms. E in Mexico before he attended the police academy and that they would "hook up" in either Douglas or Agua Prieta. However, he did say during the interview that Ms. E had "dated narcotics traffickers in the past" and described her as a "kept woman" because she was "financially cared for" by drug traffickers. 

Attempts to reach Gutierrez were unsuccessful. 

Fullen's decision to move to fire Gutierrez stemmed from entirely separate allegations of misconduct. On October 17, 2019, the chief of the Agua Prieta Police Department in Mexico messaged Fullen on WhatsApp and told him that Gutierrez had been detained for allegedly forcing a security guard at a club in Agua Prieta to drive him to the home of a drunk driver who had damaged his parked car. He then beat up the culprit and destroyed his car, according to Douglas Police Department internal records obtained through a public records request. Gutierrez was placed on administrative leave and an investigation was opened. 

The allegations ultimately weren't sustained due to discrepancies between the Agua Prieta police chief's account and interviews with Agua Prieta police officers, Gutierrez, and other witnesses. (Gutierrez said during an interview that a parking attendant had voluntarily agreed to show him where the drunk driver lived and denied physically assaulting anyone.) During the course of that probe, Chief Fullen instructed the lieutenant on the case to look into Gutierrez's involvement in the FBI investigation. 

A March 11, 2020 interview with Gutierrez that was conducted by the Douglas Police Department lieutenant revealed that Gutierrez has other personal, though somewhat removed, connections to suspected drug traffickers. Gutierrez said that the father of his close high school friend, Miguel Luna, had previously been arrested for "bribery at a port of entry," while Luna's uncle, who owned a club in Mexico, was "rumored to be a drug dealer." 

During that interview, Gutierrez claimed that he didn't think he had been doing anything wrong. 

Josiah Heyman, a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at El Paso who focuses on border issues and previously lived in Agua Prieta while completing his dissertation, said the region around Douglas is "smuggling heaven" because it is "one of the most remote areas of the border." The infamous Sinaloa Cartel has historically dominated drug trafficking routes in that part of Mexico, according to Heyman. 

He added that it is not uncommon for local law enforcement officials working in border communities to get involved in drug trafficking. 

"You know your high school buddy has become an inspector at the port of entry, so how do you approach him? You just have him over at a barbecue some afternoon and begin a conversation," Heyman said. "And a corrupt American official, even a local cop, is a pretty valuable asset.

Phoenix New Times

San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora: The Interrogation Of Jose Alberto Montaño Mercado aka El Wason

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

An armed criminal cell from the state of Sonora has released a video. For this broadcast the interrogation of a captured enemy reveals the inner workings and illicit dealings of Los Salazares and Los Chapos within the city of San Luis Río Colorado. 

Different government forces involved in the furtherance of crimes for Los Salazares and Los Chapos are given up. Just as well the pay to play fee for the crime groups to operate in the area is also mentioned. 

The following film has been deemed safe for all to see. To conclude the fate of this captive is known only in the following pictures. His demise involved being dismembered. 

Video translation is as follows:

Sicario: What is your full name, nickname, and which criminal group do you belong to?

Captive: My name is Jose Alberto Montaño Mercado. They call me El Wason. And I belong to the Los Salazares Group. 

Sicario: What’s your position within this group?

Captive: I am a hitman. 

Sicario: How many corpses do you guys have buried?

Captive: Anywhere from 10 to 20 individuals. 

Sicario: And where exactly are they buried?

Sicario: Some are buried by the antenna. And others are by the gun range, near the water department. 

Sicario: How many personnel have you guys killed?

Captive: About 20 assholes. 

Sicario: Who killed the woman and a female child driving in a Jeep Gladiator?

Captive: It was El Max. And El H is part of the mob for El Max. 

Sicario: Who ordered their deaths and why?

Captive: The person responsible for those deaths was El 21. The reason behind the hit was because they were selling blow. 

Sicario: What’s the total amount of individuals that the Los Salazares have to fight, in other words how many hitmen?

Captive: Anywhere from 30 to 40 persons. 

Sicario: How many sicarios do Los Chapós have in San Luis?

Captive: Anywhere from 40 to 50 individuals. 

Sicario: What types of armaments do you guys Los Salazares have in San Luis?

Captive: We have AR-15, AK- 47 rifles, and shotguns. 

Sicario: Which rifles do Los Chapos carry?

Captive: They carry AR-15, AK-47 rifles, and shotguns as well. 

Sicario: Who within the government support you guys, who do you pay off, and how much is that bribe?

Captive: We pay the Municipal Police, the State Police, their paid 80 thousand pesos every Tuesday. The SEDENA (Secretariat of National Defense) troops are paid 30 thousand pesos every Friday. 

Sicario: Who within the National Guard do you guys pay off?

Captive: We pay a female known as Maribel…

Warning: Graphic Pictures Below

Narco message reads as follows:

I was known as El Wason. And I formed a part of Los Salazares. This was my fate because I killed women and children. I promise that I won’t kill another child in the afterworld. 

Código Rojo


Del Rio, Texas Migrant Crisis: The Cartels Who Kidnap Them or Smuggle Them Across

"HEARST" for Borderland Beat

The small Texas border town of Del Rio is currently overwhelmed by the sudden surge of thousands of migrants who are currently living under the International bridge. The massive spike in migration which created the Del Rio camp has overwhelmed the authorities and caused significant delays in border processing, slowing the system down to a halt on multiple occasions over the weekend. 

The camps which arise to house migrants who are waiting for their chance to be processed by border authorities make vulnerable targets for cartel organizations such as the Northeast cartel (Cartel del Noroeste, CDN) and others. 

The business of coyotes, or human smugglers who guide migrants across the border illegally, used to have a degree of independence, but it is now largely run by cartel organizations. Additionally, migrants are overwhelmingly targeted in kidnapping for ransom schemes.

Monday, September 20, 2021

This Is The Evidence Against 12 Police Officers For The Camargo Massacre

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

Animal Político accessed the recordings of the hearings held in Ciudad Victoria on February 2 and 8. The process will resume on October 8, after several months of investigations.

Two vehicles, a Chevrolet Silverado and another Toyota Sequoya, circulate at full speed through a dirt road located between Camargo and Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, on the small border of Tamaulipas, a few kilometers from the United States. Inside one of trucks, terrified, there are a handful of migrants, almost all Guatemalan. 

Behind, on their heels, a police convoy consisting of a pick-up from the Secretary of State Security, three armored vehicles of the GOPES (Special Operations Group) known as Mamba Negra and two other pick ups. The agents use their weapons and some of the persecuted manage to call their relatives: "they are shooting at us," they say. It will be the last communication of his life. It's January 22 and a few minutes after 10 in the morning. We are facing the beginning of the Camargo massacre, the largest massacre of migrants perpetrated in Mexico in recent years.

Shortly after the persecution, the bodies of 19 people are burned: 16 are Guatemalan migrants, another is Salvadoran and two others are Mexicans who work helping the undocumented cross the border. Among the first victims identified are Mexicans Jesús Martínez Guerrero and Daniel Pérez Quirós, who worked crossing migrants irregularly to the United States.

Also two Guatemalans, Elfego Roliberto Miranda Díaz, 24, and Marvin Alberto Tomás López, 22,. In the following days, the names of the rest of the deceased will be made public. The state in which the Chevrolet Silverado remained is an example of the violence unleashed, since it had 113 bullet impacts (8 on the right side, 74 on the back of the box, 8 on the left side, 6 on the front and 17 more in the cabin area). The two vehicles were completely burned.

The Tamaulipas State Attorney General's Office, which investigates the facts, is sure that the state police chased, shot and burned them, and then tried to hide the evidence. To reach this conclusion, they rely on various indications: the accounts of 4 witnesses, 8 bullet shells found in the area, the geolocation of one of the police vehicles and the cell phones of each of the accused and evidence that the weapons assigned to the officers had been used.

This is the account of the facts that the investigators presented to the judge. Animal Político had access to the initial hearings held in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, on February 2 and 8, of which Vice News already advanced part of its content. In them, the agents were linked to trial and sent to prison until the sessions resume on October 8. 

The police have not admitted their participation and in those hearings they refused to talk about the day of the massacre. The research currently focuses on who, but does not address a fundamental question: why vulnerable men and women looking for a better life were killed when they were close to crossing the border.

Jorge Chavarria Bárcenas, Hector Javier Alfaro Acuña, Ismael Vázquez León, Carlos Rodríguez Rodríguez, Jorge Alfredo Castillo Miranda, Williams Figueroa Medellin, Jose Luis Lopez Morales, Cristian Eduardo Gonzalez Garcia, Horacio Quirós Sanchez, Mayra Elizabeth Vazquez Santillana, Horacio Rocha Nambo and Edgar Manuel Antonio are the agents linked to the process for the crimes of qualified homicide, abuse of authority, falsifying reports given to an authority and crimes in the performance of administrative functions. 

Of these, Vázquez Santillana, Quirós Sánchez and Castillo Miranda are attached to the operations management, while the rest are part of the GOPES (Special Operations Group), an elite body that had training from the United States and the Navy secretariat and that has been accused of various human rights violations. 

Another 9 officers of the same police force are being sought after for the same facts. In addition, two officials of the National Migration Institute (INM) and seven police officers from the municipality of Escobedo (Nuevo León), are linked to the process within another folder, which is investigated by the FGR, and which is focused on the human trafficking plot.

What the witnesses say

The burned bodies appeared on August 22 in a remote area of the municipality of Camargo. The investigations, however, are based on the complaints filed by relatives of Jesús Martínez Guerrero and Daniel Pérez Quirós, the Mexican victims. The second spoke to a cousin hours before the massacre and told him that he was near Camargo but that "there was a lot of lawmen." Later, in the middle of the shooting, he went on to call his wife and told her "that the police were shooting." 

The next day they saw the vehicle burned and knew he had died.

Testimonies are a key piece of the accusation armed by the FGE against the 12 police officers. Up to 4 people told the authorities to have seen the blue vehicle chasing the migrants or shooting at them, listening to the gunfire or subsequently seeing the burning fires caused by the vehicles. 

All these testimonies were cited by prosecutor Artemisa De Jesús Castillo García, although none had to ratify his words at the hearing. Animal Político knows the identities of all of them but decided not to publish them for safety reasons.

The first story refers to hearing gunfire and observing two vehicles, one blue and one white, chased by the police convoy. "In one of these there were undocumented people who wanted to escape because they were scared. 

Afterwards, a blue vehicle went down and they said that the law came there. They left quickly, but the blue' vehicles were already behind them shooting bullets. The vehicles in which the immigrants rode in were one white boxed truck and one blue, but they only shot the white one," the witness said, according to the prosecutor.

A second witness claims to have seen the vehicles and armored vehicles of the state police and then hear gunfire for about half an hour. One of the policemen, hooded, even asked him if they were in Tamaulipas or Nuevo León.

The third of the witnesses reported that, after hearing gunshots, he hid in his house, where he locked himself. From there he observed a lot of smoke, until a policewoman arrived, covered with masks, who asked him if anyone had gone to hide in her house.

The last story indicates having seen the convoy of police heading to the place, without having witnessed the shooting or the chase.

For the prosecutor, the "evidential value" of these witnesses is that they "are coincidental with each other." "They managed to acknowledge a chase between police and civilians, more precisely between blue armored vehicles, white and blue vans and vehicles with civilians on board, one of them a white van that had immigrants.

They also managed to see the gunshots fired by the uniformed policemen and later acknowledged the fire of these vehicles. Not only one individual refers to it. Two, three also refer to it," he said.

What geolocation says

The geolocation of agents' vehicles and phone records is another key test for the prosecutor. On the one hand, only one of the six units, the 1295, had an apparatus that allows its tracking. And the coordinate mapping places it between 10.19 and 10.39 in the municipality of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, adjacent to Camargo, just the place where the events took place. 

Subsequently, the vehicle remained static for 39 minutes, then moved to Reynosa, a municipality located 47 kilometers to the east.

 "This search is a few meters from the place where the bodies were located," the prosecutor said. Finally, the unit returned to Díaz Ordaz at 2:00 p.m., and remained there until 9 p.m. The vehicle was occupied by two officers: Mayra Elizabeth Vázquez Santillana and Jorge Alfredo Castillo Miranda.

In her approved police report, the official assured that the elements arrived at the scene around 2:00 p.m., alerted to a possible confrontation. It is suspicious for the Prosecutor's Office that she omitted that, according to the geolocation of her own car, she had been there four hours earlier, just at the time the shooting broke out.

The cell phone records of the twelve policemen is also a key indication for the FGE. According to the audience, the phones of all the agents issued signals between 10 and 11 from Lucio Blanco's repeater, located in the municipality of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz.

What the ballistics says

Ballistics is also another indication that the FGE wields against the police. According to the prosecutor at the hearing, in an inspection carried out on the 24th, two days after the massacre, they found nine bullet casings: one from a handgun and another eight from a long gun. This leads investigators to think that the police made the remains of the shooting disappear to make investigations difficult, since only one of the vehicles had 113 projectile impacts.

The tests carried out on the weapons attached to each of the accused elements indicated that all of them had been investigated recently.

Destruction of evidence

The FGE believes that the police persecuted, murdered and burned the migrants. Also, they tried to hide the evidence. To do this, it is based on the approved police report signed by Mayra Elizabeth Vázquez Santillana, who was in charge.

It ensures that the officers arrived in the area at 2:00 p.m. alerted by a confrontation. According to this version, a man in his 50s who did not want to identify himself was the one who gave the notice that a shooting had occurred. In addition, it is noted that two burned weapons were found in one of the victims' vehicles.

"The now accused altered, modified, destroyed, lost clues, evidence, objects or instruments related in this case to the criminal act, to the deprivation of the life of the 19 people," said prosecutor Artemisa De Jesús Castillo García.

The hearings were held on February 2 and 8 and investigations have progressed since then. The police are still in prison and will have to defend their innocence in the sessions to be held next October 8. So far, none have acknowledged their participation in the events and their defense lawyers insist that the evidence is not sustained or obtained by irregular means.

Animal Politico