Mexico likes to put on a good show for the press after arresting an alleged drug cartel member.
The already infamous press presentation process, normally featuring detainees lined up in front hulking amounts of narcotics or guns, has taken on a whole new level in the central Mexican city of Nezahualcóyotl.
After recently arresting two alleged La Familia drug cartel hitmen near a local mall for possession of assault rifles, the city’s police department decided to give photographers a little bit of treat.
Instead of just lining the men up front of a table filled with the weapons, they placed a seized Glock 9mm handgun in the hand of one man and an AK-47 assault rifle in the hands of the other suspected crock.
No word if the guns were loaded.
The two men - Justino Burgos Herrera and Erick González Gutiérrez – were also captured while wearing polo shirts bearing the insignia of the federal police. Inside their car with the weapons were two magazines, 17 rounds of ammunition, three bulletproof vests, two commando uniforms, a sign labeled with the La Familia name and the personal information of a public official, who the two men allegedly sought to kidnap.
The presentation of criminals to the press, known affectionately to reporters in the U.S. as the “perp walk,” has morphed into a spectacle in Mexico, where President Felipe Calderón’s drug war has left an estimated 40,000 people dead and pitted drug cartels against the country's security forces.
Almost daily, one of the thousands of suspects arrested in the drug war is paraded in front of cameras, posed with seized weapons and drugs and even interrogated by authorities as reporters stand around and take notes on what at times are the alleged criminals self-incriminating answers.
This practice has drawn criticism from many human rights groups, who claim the “perp walk” presumes guilt even before the alleged criminals have even been charged. The rise in these presentations endangers Mexico's efforts to establish rule of law and cultivate a functioning democracy, said Luis García López-Guerrero, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"We don't want to see justice in the media," García said. "We want to feel safe."