Looking for "halcones" (lookouts), state police detain and torture motorcycle riders.
Rio Doce. 7-23-2012
Luis Fernando Najera
In Los Mochis, it's dangerous to be young and ride a motorcycleHe felt the blow when he was already on the ground. His cheeks were burning like crazy and a tactical boot was pressing down on his chest. The burning concrete made his skin sizzle, as if a piece of fresh, moist meat had fallen on boiling oil, but he couldn't complain because the barrel of a rifle was stuck in his mouth. Afterwards, he was lifted off the ground and another round of blows stunned him, almost to the point that he forgot who he was.
He managed to pay attention to what was happening when he heard his cousin's cries. His cousin, a minor, was in the grip of other ministerial policemen. The elite cops, the ones quartered in this area.
He's afraid, very afraid of telling his story. And he's got some pretty heavy reasons for that. The elites, after torturing him for almost twelve hours inside the walled yards of the Ministerial State Police, photographed him, they took his credentials and stole his cell phone, including his watch. Before they took him into a holding cell of the Municipal Police, the abusive sister agency of the Ministerial police, they showed him photographs of his wife and children, and they made a sinister promise: "If you talk or file a complaint against us, they die. We know where you live, cabron. So you know, you talk, you die."
But with fear and all, he still tells his story. His bosses, indignant, support him. Their support gives him courage. But he has conditions; no names, don't even mention his work place, because the cops kept everything. "They even took my belt and apron."
Juan, that's what we'll call him in this story, works two jobs to support his family. Under the sun, he's a construction worker, and at night, an all-around employee. That's why he's always busting his ass to keep up with the two work schedules.
On Thursday of last week, he was already late 40 minutes, time he planned to make up by working late, when he asked one of his teenage cousins for a ride. They both got on the motorcycle and took off from the west side of the city towards the first commercial district.
Near an auto parts store, the elites knocked them down off the bike, and the last thing he remembers about those few seconds is a metallic taste in his mouth.
Tied up, they drove them to the fortified Ministerial facilities and separated them. Him, they left under a tree and afterwards placed him against a wall, with his head stuck into his shoulders. They ordered him to close his eyes and used wide blindfolds to block his sight. Only his mouth and nose were left uncovered.
He let them lead him. He doesn't know what they made him lie on, whether it was the patrol vehicle's hood or a board, but he felt two cops sit on top of his body, one on both his legs, on his ankles, and the other on his genitals.
The first questions came: "Who's your boss? Who are you working as lookout for? What do you work at? Who did you steal those things from?" After listening to his answers, the elites weren't convinced, and told him he would be interrogated using the traditional methods for getting a statement. Suddenly, a lot of blows. First the head, then the stomach.
Annoyed, the cops increased the intensity of the torture, and made fun of him saying he couldn't take the heat.
Open your snout, ordered one of the belligerent cops. He was unable to do that. They opened it with a blow. He closed his mouth when they rammed the neck of a plastic bottle down his throat and squeezed it to force the water down. They wanted to drown him, but they weren't able to do it. More blows loosened his stomach.
A change in tactics: a sheet on his face, which was already half covered with the blindfold, and a plastic bag covering both. Water and more water. Again the beating, water and more water entering through his nose and mouth. Brief periods of unconsciousness then a violent wake up; he manged to survive that part of the torture.
Then came the steel drum: blindfolded, they lifted him in the air and put him in it, not once, but many times, so many that he lost count. They would only pull him out so he could breathe and, according to them, finger his boss, his organization, the lookout.
A thousand times he told them who he was, where he worked, but having taken his life by force, the elites didn't believe him. At that moment, they were gods and decided who was to live and who to die, because, in the end, the hoods prevented their identification, and, without registration numbers, nobody can identify the patrol vehicles. And, in case that happens anyway, they can claim that the vehicles were cloned, or better, that the incident was a mistake caused by the stress they, the cops, live under, they told him this when they were about to let him go.
These explanations, which prove the criminal conduct of the Elite Police, almost made Juan urinate and defecate in his pants.
Finally, they decide to let him go. And they tell him that he will be sentenced to death if he talks or denounces the incidents.
He's taken to the Municipal Police booking station. There, he admits that the blows he suffered were because he was drunk, the same reason he lost all his belongings. He's jailed, not a few hours, but almost a day. That night he pukes blood and all his body hurts. He knows he made it, for the moment, because a few yards from where he was, they are torturing another motorcycle rider, but in the municipal cells.
His cousin had it worse and he is almost dead, but from fear.
Days after they were tortured by the elites, Juan finds out from the newspaper that the body of an unidentified person was found near the Primero de Mayo community. Actually, he read, it was Juvencio Quiroz Ibarra, a 42 year old businessman, a resident of Colonia Scally, who liked to wear boots and "gotcha" pants that, at first glance, resembled "tactical" gear.The businessman was blindfolded, with the same ties and knots the elites used on him. And Juan trembles, he just trembles.
Juan's story is similar to the stories that five other employees in the same department store have told their managers. These managers have referred the cases to their superiors, because in their view, the police abuse may result in the death of their employees.
From admiration to hate"I used to admire them, because the papers said they got it on with gunmen and paid killers; those guys have balls, I thought often, but now I don't think like that; what's more, I think that they deserve whatever the killers do to them, because these sons of bitches are animals, with their damned fear, their fucking hoods, in a bunch, without anything to identify them, they act like sons of bitches with you, with any poor bastard who doesn't have anybody to defend him. They fucked me over good, just because they can do it, but now I wish them death."
This is the way Ricardo talks, who works in another department store that has several branches in the city.
The day his life got complicated, he had left work almost 60 minutes after midnight. He was riding his motorcycle home, praying he would not get robbed or that some reckless driver wouldn't run him over or that he would not get hit by some stray bullet.
"God heard my prayers and protected me, but he let out these blue and black uniformed sons of bitches," he says.
Going at less than 30 miles per hour, he slowed down his motorcycle when he saw the patrol vehicles. "You have to respect these guys because they lay it on the line", he thought, and he even remembers he nodded his head at them.
He doesn't know what triggered their rage, but, as if shot from a spring, they caught him. "They gave me a super beating, and they insisted that I was a lookout (halcon), and bam!, more blows. I thought I was in a safe house, but no, I was in the holding cells."
"The cells, the grass, the rocks, everything is from inside that place. And there's no arguing with them, because they brag they've got the support of their bosses, from the chief to the mayor."
"We can fuck over anybody we want, and what, dude? Not even your little lawyers can do anything to us."
That's what they told me and no choice but to believe them. But that's OK, dude, I thought they were good guys, I defended them, but I won't do that again. If somebody fucks them over, it's because they deserve it, and it's too bad, in their sin is their punishment."
Carrasco will be placed on the witness standMade aware of the abuses of authority by the constant complaints by members of the city council, the mayor Zenen Aaron Xochihua Enciso stated that the chief of police will be called to appear before the city council to offer explanations to the city leaders.
"The Commission on Political Reconciliations has asked Carrasco to appear before them. We're organizing it and negotiating the terms for his appearance. We don't know whether it will be in private or in public. We'll know what kind of appearance it will be when we have an agreement, but it will not be soon because we have other priorities on the agenda," said the mayor in response to reporters' questions.
He recognized that council members of the opposition have felt uneasy with the chief of the Municipal Police for what they consider police abuses and excesses against the civilian public, mostly young people, and, in some cases, against the city leaders.
"It may be due to confusion," the Mayor offered, "but that should be explained by the chief himself to the complainants."
The operation against license platesAt the General Offices of the Municipal Police and Traffic, nobody will explain the operation against motorcyclists that is the basis for torturing civilians. The interim director, Jesus Carrasco Ruiz, refuses to see reporters because they make him uncomfortable and he chooses to hide in his brick and Sheetrock offices, flanked by police officers.
In their own headquarters, lower ranking commanders see in notebooks, recorders and cameras a case that involves terror, and they likewise flee. The secretaries have run out of explanations and don't know what to tell reporters when they come out and say, "He won't see you, he's got a lot of work."
Only the chief of the docket court, Juan Lopez Cardona, an administrative, not a political, authority, reveals that from July 6 to date they have brought in 55 motorcycles because they didn't have license plates. Nobody gets fined, but rather, the case is turned over to Traffic. Some of those units have been taken by ministerial (police).