Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Fatal Error: Military Open Fire on Nuevo Leon family

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 |


In what has been deemed a tragic and fatal error, elements of the Mexican Army opened fire on a vehicle whose driver ignored orders to stop in a military checkpoint.

The incident resulted in the death of a father and son and five family members injured.



The events occurred shortly after 10:00 p.m. Sunday on the Monterrey-Laredo highway in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon.

Officials close to the investigation stated a convoy of soldiers ordered the driver of a gray Malibu to stop, when the driver ignored their orders, a persecution was initiated, which later led to the military opening fire on the vehicle.

It wasn't until the vehicle stopped and soldiers moved in to investigate that they realized their error. Six family members were injured and a 15 year old boy who had been in the backseat was killed instantly.

After calling Red Cross and state and federal officials, the site was immediately secured by the same military elements involved in the incident.

First to arrive at the scene was the Red Cross who reported the injury of two men, two women, and two children. Due to the nature of their injuries, one man and one women were immediately transported to a local hospital while paramedics continued evaluating the other four. The lifeless body of 15 year old Gabriel Alejandro Castellanos León was laid out to the side of the vehicle to await ministerial police and forensic authorities.

Hours after the incident it was established that one of the men injured was identified as 52 year old Vicente Leon Ramirez, father of the deceased teen, Alejandro Gabriel. His death, caused by a gunshot wound to the lower spine and two to his left arm, was reported shortly after 2:00 a.m.

His wife, Patricia Castellanos Corpus, 45, who was hospitalized for a bullet in the left shoulder, stated they never saw a military checkpoint and were unaware of any attempt by the military to detain them until after the persecution had began and the soldiers began shooting.

Also identified were Iliana León Castellanos, 24, and Tomas Guadalupe Rodríguez Hernández, aged 28. The woman, who is the daughter of Vicente and Patricia, had one gunshot wound in the face. Her husband presented four gunshot wounds, three to the spine, which doctor's determined too risky to remove, and one to the head.

Tomas Guadalupe, 9, and Victor Eduardo Rodriguez de Leon, 8, children of Iliana and Tomas Guadalupe each suffered suffered injuries caused by shattering glass. Both children, as well as their grandmother, Patricia, have since been treated and released from the hospital.

José Luis de León Castellano, son and brother of the deceased, stated in a phone interview, his mother, sister, and brother-in-law who was driving the vehicle, declared the military opened fire not because of an ignored checkpoint, but because the family had attempted to pass a moving military convoy.


militares atacan a familia
Cargado por adlervonstahl. - Mira las noticias más recientes en video.

The Attorney General of Military Justice initiated a preliminary inquiry to investigate the events. In a press release, the Ministry of National Defense said today the troops involved are members of a Base of Operations within the Permanent Campaign Against Drug Trafficking and Federal Law Enforcement of Firearms and Explosives.

"The Ministry of Defense expresses the deepest condolences to the families of those killed in these acts, and reaffirms its commitment to the citizens to act in strict accordance with the rule of law and respect for human rights."

In a live press conference, the Secretary General of Nuevo Leon, Javier Treviño Cantú, announced the position of the Mexican army, whose commanders of the Seventh military zone was present at the meeting, and stated that it would punish those responsible for the incident.


Cantu Treviño announced the State will pay all hospital and funeral expenses incurred by the family.

The National Human Rights Commission has launched a formal complaint and has deployed personnel to contact the family to gather testimonies and assist the family legally, medically, and emotionally in this time of tragedy.

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27 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reporting on this Ovemex.

This reaction from SEDENA is in obvious contrast to the incident involving similar circumstances earlier in the year. Iliana's reporting on the story "El Dia de la Coneja" on April 9th (and subsequent stories) showed the making of a criminal cover-up by the military.

They still butchered a family here; but at least they weren't as obvious in trying to cover it up.

Damb. It seems like any progress will always be proceeded with innocent's blood.

Once again...we need public trials and public justice for this family and the Officer in Charge (at least).

Anonymous said...

Very sad, but how can it be avoided? Tighten up rules of engagment and you get soldiers killed,and give the gangs an advantage,what can you say? The lawlesness in Mexico is the responsable party.We all weep for the Mexican people but this clensing of a sick country is long overdue,its not drugs its the rotten govt the history of lawlesness anything goes just show me the money.

Ovemex said...

@anonymous 7:22 AM: SEDENA's reaction is quite different, they are admitting fault, it seems even the individual soldiers admitted fault from the beginning, once realizing a family was on board.

What is unclear, however is how it happened.. Officials say they passed a checkpoint and refused to stop, or ignored their orders to stop. The family claims they passed a moving convoy and never saw anyone attempt to stop them. http://www.milenio.com/node/524102

I feel for this family. What has happened to this is tragic, but it is a reality of life in Mexico. Soldiers and civilians now share the streets, the cities, and towns. It is necessary, at least for the time being.

The area where this happened is very dark and very well known for cartel movement.

Shortly before this happened, grenades were thrown on the highway in front of the AEI building, just about 15 km. from where the family was attacked. The highways connect, military troops would have been on alert for possible confrontation from the grenade attack.

The family of course, had no way of knowing this.

It is imperative to find a way for military and civilians to co-inhabit. hopefully this tragic event and the loss of this family's loved ones will not be in vain and valuable insight can be gained.

I don't think, in any way, it would be wise (nor warranted) to pull the military off the streets. They are the people's only salvation at this time. Justice should be demanded, but keep the troops in service.

Anonymous said...

Si se les marco el alto en el reten militar debieron detenerse, estaban dentro de la ciudad los retenes malos se pone fuera de las ciudades a no menos de 10 kilometros. parte de la culpa la tiene la persona que no se detuvo. pues se hizo sospechoso...

Anonymous said...

AM SORRY FOR THAT FAMILY BUT THEY IN THE WRONG PLACE AND THE WRONG TIME ,IF THE ARMY STOP THEM WAIT THEY DO NOT STOP, IF THEY KNOW IS A WAR BETWWEN THE ARMY AND DRUG DEALEARS

Anonymous said...

So you think it’s perfectly ok for the military to slaughter unarmed people for merely running a roadblock? That is why Mexico is so fucked up with this kind of attitude from some of the populace and the corrupt government, there is not hope!

Anonymous said...

Come on, have the people of Mexico grown this cynical? We are ok to kill innocent people in the name of the "war on drugs?"

Come on! Wake the fuck up!!!!

Not a systemic problem?

Read on!

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010/03/mexican-drug-wars-collateral-damage.html

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010/02/collateral-damage.html

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010/04/el-dia-de-la-coneja-for-two-little-boys.html

Anonymous said...

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=384376008035

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I am not sure if my last link went through, but here is the video from the Youtube site of Borderland Beat:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ef3JIXEZujc

Anonymous said...

"El Dia de la Coneja" escrito por Iliana fue una obra maestra, aún puedo ver su cara cuando se unió con nosotros durante la protesta.

Viva Tamaulipas!
Viva Mexico!

Anonymous said...

Que barbaridad, ineptitud o alevocia x parte de los militares tal vez esta familia presencio algo ke comprometia a esos militares, o los vieron mal, ellos (los militares) van a decir como sucedieron las cosas como mas les convenga,
Mis mas sentidos pesames para la familia ke perdio un hijo, y ahora su seguridad...

Anonymous said...

There's a difference between shooting innocent civilians by mistake and purposely shooting at them for the fun of it like American soldiers do in Iraq and Afghanistan every day.

Don't get it twisted, this kind of shit is going to happen no matter what, considering the fact that the enemy hides within the population. It's not a justifcation to shoot at any moving car but the soldiers are risking their hides for the population day in and day out, therefore if they suspect you're a threat, there's a good chance you will not come out of it all fine and dandy. This is war, and the Mexican soldiers have every right to see to it that their country does not fall into oblivion.

My condolonces to the family, R.I.P.

Fuck what you heard, the military is doing what the Mexican civilians have been too chicken-shit to do for the past 60 years. What would you expect the soldiers to have done?...go up to the car and ask who exactly is inside driving, and if possible an explanation as to why they refused to stop?

This kind of shit pissed me off when Americans were doing it in the Middle East but that's because they're there helping the Oil Cartels make with all the oil. In Mexico the armed forces are actually going after these evil fucks.

Anonymous said...

For those of you lame fucks who think these soldiers are inept and too agressive..get fuckin real! That makes you sound like you believe that these soldiers go around shooting at whoever they feel like, like they have never shown to us how well their training is paying off, like all you see is innocent bystanders at the hands of the military. Go in there and show us how to do it if you think you can do a better job.

Anonymous said...

"soldiers are risking their hides. . . . "

From unarmed people driving away???????
It's chicken shit to shoot unarmed people who have not committed any crime!

The family is saying there was no roadblock, they were just passing the convoy!

No wonder Mexico is so fucked up!

I agree with a previous article that the Mexican military needs better training and the government needs to institute better policy and enforce it, that is do not kill you innocent citizens; trigger happy, undisciplined response to a non immediate threat is so 3rd world!

Anonymous said...

Let's see, there is a truck load of soldiers who have just had grenades chucked at them 15 km back, (about 8 minutes ago), it's 2:30AMm (not family hour) and there's a car busting it's chops to pull up beside you. You wave it off but it is persistent.

Traveling with family through a known narco neighborhood in the dead of night one would be advised to hang behind the military and call them "escort".

Sorry for the family's loss and may they rest in peace but the driver made a really bad decision.

Ovemex said...

I cannot imagine this family's pain, but unfortunately, it is WAR.. Countless articles have been passed around newspapers, blogs, radio, and email pleading with civilians to:

remove all tinted film from their windows, or if not, and driving at night to turn on their interior lights and roll down the window some.

Stop at military checkpoints

Not to accelerate their vehicles near or try to "cut through" military checkpoints.

Keep music to a moderate level (to hear both dangerous situations: gunshots, etc and emergency/security vehicles.

etc,etc,etc...

I am not trying to justify the military shooting this family...but like I said before BOTH military and civilians have to adapt, there is no other choice (for now at least)....

Anonymous said...

The fuck outta here! That's that bullshit. So your country is at war and the first thing that pops in your ingorant's ass when you see a military convoy is you better speed up and pass them? You got some huevos.

You try and strap yourself with a bullet-proof vest before you go out into the streets not knowing if you going to make it home. Put yourself in the soldiers' feet. That's right, you can't.

Have you seen the video where the cops block the military convoy who were transporting a narco and his truck? That cop gets it in the legs. That's right, a fuckin cop, in uniform for that matter! And what did the soldiers do after that? They aksed the reporters to get the fuck down as there's no telling what all those moving cars passing by were capable of. Shit is real dude.

I'm sorry for their loss but just because innocent civilians get shot up does not mean there is a problem with the military. Go and check out the youtube videos how American soldiers celebrate after having destroyed innocent civilians' cars who were simplly passing by. Check out the chopper footage released by wikileaks. There's a huge difference in what they're doing over there than what's happening over here. That's trigger-happy, this is just an unfortunate event.

Anonymous said...

"So your country is at war and the first thing that pops in your ingorant's ass. . . . "

So it's the fault of the US that the Mexican military is killing innocent unarmed Mexican people?????????

You sound more pathetic the more you type!
Quit defending the indefensible and stopped being a sheep when it comes to your corrupt government, they are poisoning your country fool!

Anonymous said...

"Ovemex said... I am not trying to justify the military shooting this family...but like I said before BOTH military and civilians have to adapt, there is no other choice (for now at least)...."

But you just did that, went on to justify it!

Why on God's earth would you try to JUSTIFY the killing of unarmed innocent people??????

If Mexico has what they term "collateral damage" when killing innocent people in the name of the "drug war," what is worth fighting for?

Go tell the mother of the boy that it was their fault their son died because they committed the sin of passing a military convoy, all in the name of the drug war.

Instead of trying to justify the slaughter of innocent people, when will you just say enough is enough?????????

Anonymous said...

Who has caused the shit in the country in the first place? The Mexican government? Federal authorities? Drug cartels? Jack the Ripper? Whoever did it really fucked up.

Anonymous said...

number one---- THE US ARMY DID NO SHOOTING

NUMBER TWO ----- WITHOUT THE MEXICAN ARMY ONE THE SCENE YOU WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO GO OUTSIDE IN DAYTIME


SOME OF YOU DUMBASSES NEED TO GET REAL ...SOMEHOW YOU MANAGE TO BLAME THE USA EVERYTIME

Ovemex said...

@ Anonymous 11:41 P.M.

" Go tell the mother of the boy that it was their fault their son died because they committed the sin of passing a military convoy, all in the name of the drug war.

Instead of trying to justify the slaughter of innocent people, when will you just say enough is enough?????????"

Hell, I would love to say enough is enough and have everything magically fall into place. Have narcos repent, corrupt turn honest, fear into security, and narcos, civilians, government officals, and the military all be able to hold hands and dance under a pixie dusted rainbow. But it's not happening.

Of course it was WRONG for the military to shoot this family. It's FUCKED UP..Nothing can bring back that woman's husband and child. Nothing will ease her pain. Nothing can correct the military''s error.

You talk of the woman, her pain. Have you ever seen the looks on the face of a mother who's child was just rescued by soldiers? I have. Have you ever seen the expression of hope on the faces of an entire town when military convoys finally arrive to free them from narcos who decided their quaint little town would make a good basecamp? I have.

Have one of your loved ones ever had a narco aim an AR-15 at them at a stoplight just because they unknowingly got into between a narco convoy? Mine has.

Do you know of any kids in your school district studying "pecho tierra/how to survive a shootout", I do.

Do you think I like it? Do you think no one thinks about being the next possible "collateral damage"??

That's why people have had to adapt..That's why the military must adapt..This is not just going to end. The narcos are not simply going to pack there bags and leave Mexico in peace.

The idea, for now, is to prevent becoming collateral damage, to Survive..with hopes of truly LIVING again someday.

I hope you understand.

Anonymous said...

The military shooting was not WRONG, it was not an accident. Ovemex listed some of the road rules. How many did the driver break. When you break the rules you get punished. In war punish is a deadly word.

Anonymous said...

"Ovemex said... I hope you understand."

No I can't, but if you chose to accept it by listing some of the things the military has done and that should make it alright in your eyes, then it is sad! If you can live with that, then I really feel bad for you.

The truth be told, it should never be ok or learn to adapt to something that is wrong, instead we should be outraged over it and demand changes to avoid another senseless killing of another innocent child!

This is a lot more common than you think!
By the way I live in Tamaulipas, and if the price of the war of drugs is to kill innocent people by means of collateral damage, I rather not have it!

Anonymous said...

Military rule is strict and should be in affect only as long as it takes to clean up the mess. Adapting to military rule in order to restore peace is not wrong.

From other posts it seems information about the cartels is not open to everybody, maybe they don't understand the danger, maybe the road rules are not published enough for the people to understand the stress the military is under.

You argue with a soldier, a cop, a judge and you lose. Any country, any day.

Ovemex said...

@ anonymous 11:28 p.m.

One shouldn't be forced to adapt to something that is wrong. Your damn right, but the military did not create this need to adapt, the narcos and citizen indifference/apathy did.

Have you not changed your life in anyway since this bullshit blew up in our faces? Do you still go about your life as you did last year, or the year before that, what about 10 years ago?

Call me sad, as you have, but I HAVE changed and I will continue to do so, as well as teach my children to do so, in efforts (no guarantees), but to continue surviving..

I don't personally know anyone who "wanted" this drug war, but it's here and it's not going to end simply because we "rather not have it", as you stated.

Btw, these changes and adaptations I have made are not for the sole purpose of surviving. I want to be a part of the solution. Citizen indifference, apathy, and fear of narcos, government, corruption, and so forth allowed this. Change is needed from everyone of us.

In the end, I respect your difference of opinion, but I, personally, would not and do not agree with cutting off one's nose to spite the face.

What happened to this family was a TRAGIC error. One that should have been and could have been prevented, but it wasn't.

With that in mind, in the meantime, I will continue adapting, in hopes of living to oneday see positive change.

Anonymous said...

"So you think it’s perfectly ok for the military to slaughter unarmed people for merely running a roadblock?"

LOL

google some videos of the TX PD on you tube and shall you get your answer...DON"T MESS WITH TEXAS....lol

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