By Chris Covert
Retired general Mario Arturo Acosta Chaparro was attacked Friday afternoon in Mexico City in the Mexico City suburb of Polanco in Anahuac colony near the intersection of calles Lago Como and Lago Trasimeno. He was hit three times in the head by gunfire. He was rushed to receive medical attention but died at about 1820 hrs local time.
|General Acosta Chaparro|
Mexicans these days recognize the general as a disgraced commander who was accused of receiving money from the founder of the Juarez Cartel, Amado Carrillo Fuentes AKA Señor de los Cielos or Lord of the Heavens, part of the charges for which Acosta Chaparro was arrested on August 30th, two months short of his retirement. He was later sentenced for crimes against health. Those charges actually related to his time as a counterinsurgency commander in Guerrero state in the 1970s. General Acosta Chaparro spent almost seven years in Campo Militar No. 1 military prison in Mexico City.
In the summer of 2007, an appellate court, Quinto Tribunal Colegiado, ordered the Supremo Tribunal de Justicia Militar to impose a new sentence on Acosta Chaparro saying sufficient evidence had been found of the general's ties to drug trafficking. The new sentence was for a charge he had already been acquitted, So, in June 2007 he was released.
General Acosta Chaparro was one of several military commanders who made their bones in the 1970s and 1990s fighting Marxist guerilla movements in Mexico, a list which includes General Mario Renan Castillo Fernandez Military Zone commander during the latter phases of the Chiapas Conflict of 1994 to 1998, General Leopoldo Diaz Perez, who was Castillo Fernandez's intelligence chief during the Chiapas Conflict, and General Juan Alfredo Oropeza Garnica commander of the 27th Military Zone in Acapulco, who effectively ended Ejercito Popular Revolucionario (EPR) combat activities in Guerrero in the late 1990s.
Acosta Chaparro was born January 19, 1942 in Mexico City and entered military school in 1959 and was graduated from Frances Hidalgo college in 1962, when he received his officer's commission as a 2nd lieutenant.
Between then and 1970 he spent time in a number of military police and rifle units before going to Fort Bragg North Carolina for paratrooper training. He served briefly as an aide to Mexican Secretaria de Defensa Nacional (SEDENA) General Marcelino Garcia Barragan before being assigned as a staff officer in Brigada de Fusileros Paracaidistas an airborne infantry unit.
In December 1974 he was promoted by President Luis Echeverria to major and at some point had been assigned to the 27 Military Zone in Acapulco. His service record records these assignments as under the heading War Campaigns and Actions. He worked with the Guerrero governor Ruben Figueroa Figueroa during that time and with coordination with the Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR) in the campaign against Marxist guerillas operating in Guerrero state. Chief among those was a group headed by Lucio Cabanas, Partido de los Pobres.
While in the 27th Military Zone, it is alleged, that then major of infantry Acosta Chaparro ran the Brigada Blanca which was allegedly responsible for the forced disappearances of 143 individuals, and which operated the "death flights" which disposed of many more executed in Acapulco.
The Mexican leftist weekly, Proceso, had an article published back in the 2000s which described in chilling detail how ordinary citizens had been swept off the streets of Acapulco, interrogated then executed without trial. The bodies were then transported to a local military airfield at night to an awaiting aircraft, which would then be flown offshore some kilometers, where the bodies would then be dumped.
The article, understandably has been redacted, but it can be found here.
How much of that story is true is uncertain, but what was certain was that General Acosta Chaparro was implicated in that grisly activity and had faced an investigation under the presidency of Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon. An assistant attorney general of Distrito Federal Samual de Villar attempted to charge Acosta Chapparro with the murder of several individuals during Acosta Chaparro's time as head of Guerrero state's Polica Judicial del Estado, but the complaint was unable to be moved forward.
Almost as an aside, it was with the help of Acosta Chaprro that the armed leftist insurgency in Guerrero was exterminated, not to be revived until after the Chiapas Conflict went hot in 1994.
When Chiapas went hot in 1994, after literally years of SEDENA and then President Carlos Salinias de Gortari ignoring the warnings of a growing and hostile armed movement in Chiapas, now General Acosta Chaparro came up with a document based on files he had accumulated while fighting Marxist guerillas in 1970 that provided SEDENA with an insight into what Mexico was fighting with the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional (EZLN).
The document can't be found online, but from various descriptions available, the general excoriated the intelligence services for their failures in recognizing the threat from EZLN. His files were later published in 1995 in a book entitled Movimiento Subversivo en Mexico.
Following his posting in Guerrero, which ended in 1977, Acosta Chaparro held a number of military police and rifle commands until his arrest in 2000. Despite his record as a warfighter during the 1970s, he was never assigned a military zone.
Just after the general was released from prison, President Felipe Calderon brought him out of retirement for one last mission in 2008, a year after the start of Calderon's term.
|President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa|
According to data supplied by Proceso writer Jorge Carrasco Araizaga, who gathered information provided by a book written by Anabel Hernandez entitled The Drug Lords, Hernandez identified a Mexican General called "General X", a military commander that Carrasco Araizaga identified as General Acosta Chaparro.
President Calderon's mission was for General Acosta Chaparro to contact the leaders for the top five drug cartels, and to negotiate with them to get them to tamp down on the violence.
In turn, Acosta Chaparro met with:
- Jesus Mendez Vargas AKA El Chango and Nazario Moreno AKA El Pastor, top leaders of La Familia de Michoacana.
- Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano AKA La Lanzca and Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, AKA Z40, top leaders of Los Zetas, then the enforcement wing for the Gulf Cartel.
- A second meeting too place in Febraury, 2009 when General Acosta Chaparro asked Lazcano Lazcano why General Mauro Enrique Tello Quinones commander of 21st Military Zone had been killed just days before, to which was replied, he failed to comply.
- Lazcano Lazcano helped the general contact Arturo Beltran Leyva, AKA El Barbas, head of the Beltran Leyva cartel. That meeting was held at a location between Cuernavaca and Acapulco, and was attended by Edgar Valdez Villarreal AKA La Barbie, Mario Pineda Villa AKA El Borrado and Jesus Nava Romero AKA El Rojo. Less than nine months later Arturo Beltran Leyva and Nava Romero would be killed in a military operation. Valdez Villarreal allegedly dropped a dime on Beltran Leyva and escaped the kill zone. Valdez Villarreal would himself be detained in Mexico City in 2010.
- Next, the general met with leaders of the Juarez Cartel, probably Vicente Carillo Fuentes, the organization with which prosecutors alleged Acosta Chaparro had links.
- The last meeting held was with Joaquin Loera Guzman AKA El Chapo, head of the Sinaloa cartel.
Following his release, Acosta Chaparro was discharged from the military, a move against which he sued SEDENA in the courts and won. The suit allowed him to recover back pay and assets lost when he went to prison His name was eventually added to list of Mexican Army heros by concurrent SEDENA General Guillermo Galvan Galvan for his efforts in extinguishing the armed Marxist movements in the 1970s.
Although he did spend almost seven years in prison and was acquitted, it was his efforts and experience in killing Marxist guerillas in Guerrero in the 1970s that won his a politically motivated charge of a nexus with organized crime, which he was eventually cleared.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com