By Chris Covert
Five suspects in the July, 2010 car bomb in Ciudad Juarez were released from prison, after Mexican authorities said they had no role in the crime, according to Mexican news reports.
A news report which appeared in the online edition of El Diario de Chihuahua said that representatives of the Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR) or attorney general of Mexico said that not only were the five accused tortured into confessing the crime, they had had no role in the crime.
The innocents were identified as Noe Fuentes Chavira, Rogelio Amaya Martinez, Victor Manuel Martinez Renteria, Gustavo Martinez Renteria and Ricardo Fernandez Lomeli, all from Chihuahua state.
The 2010 Ciuidad Juarez car bomb was the first car bomb used in the Mexican Drug War since the start in 2007, and the first of a series by other criminal groups in northeastern Mexico between that time and early 2011.
That attack which took place in Zone Centro of Ciudad Juarez took the lives of four including one Policia Federal agent. At the time it was thought the explosive used was US made C4 plastic explosive, but it was later learned that the explosive was a commercial grade dynamite known as Tovex. Tovex is used extensively in mining operations in the sierras of western Chihuahua state as well as by Pemex, the state owned petroleum entity.
The Policia Federal unit operating in Ciudad Juarez were the target of the attack.
At that time the five had been placed in preventative detention, which is a common practice for serious drug related crimes in Mexico. Among the crimes which landed the five in prison were possession of marijuana and possession of a weapon under the Firearms and Explosives Act, which prohibits anyone without explicit permission from the government from owning the same caliber of weapon used by Mexican security forces.
According to a lawyer with Centro de Derechos Humanos Paso del Norte (CDHPN) or Human Rights Center, Diana Morales, said that the Istanbul Protocol was applied in the cases of the accused, and it was found that because torture could be proved, the five must be released.
Additionally, the document used to charged the five had already been filled out, dated for August 11th instead of August12th, the date of the actual detention.
According to the account, the human rights office met with current PGR Jesus Murillo Karam and said that if any of the five had been subject to torture, then must all go free. It later transpired all five had been abused by federal police while in custody.
The Guadalajara Juzgado Primero de Procedimientos Penales de Distrito ordered the release of the accused Thursday and last Friday they left prison.
The complaint about torture had been filed a year ago.
The Policia Federal unit which was attacked by the car bomb, had long been under suspicion in the press for illegal practices such as torture and abuse of authority. This writer saw news reports at the time including video which purportedly showed top local Policia Federal officials engaged in torture of suspects, but could not credit the information. Those officials also reportedly used drugs seized in other operations which were planted as evidence in other cases.
The practice at the time was so bad that the unit itself was under nearly constant attack from criminal elements in the city, one week suffering several attempted ambushes of their patrols, losing three agents.
Finally on August 8th, a mutiny took place at the hotel where the unit was billeted where the grievances were aired out publicly. Two days later the entire unit was rotated out by air and replaced with another different unit.
Two months later in October 2010, forty agents, presumably in that unit, were relieved of duty and imprisoned. The El Diario report does not say if the same Policia Federal elements were involved in in illegally extracting the confession from the five accused.
The Juarez car bomb was an attack conceived by Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez. AKA Diego, the prolific number two man in La Linea, the enforcement wing of the Juarez Cartel. Acosta Hernandez was busted in Chihuahua city by a Policia Federal special forces unit in the summer of 2011.
According to the El Diario de Chihuahua report, several suspects are to be tried in the bombing. Thery include José Ivan Contreras Lumbreras, AKA El Keiko, Jaime Arturo Chavez Gonzalez, AKA El Jimmy, Mauro Adrian Villegas, AKA El Blaky or El Negro, Fernando Contreras Meraz, AKA El Barbas, Martin Perez Marrufo, AKA El Popeye or El Gordo, Lorenzo Tadeo Palacios, AKA El Shorty or Shorty Dog and Jorge Antonio Hernandez, AKA El Chapo or El Chapito.
Acosta Hernandez is also accused in the attack, but since he is in prison in the United States, he will not be prosecuted.
The El Diario report also said that the Policia Federal's role in the wrongful imprisonment and torture are still under investigation.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com and BorderlandBeat.com. He can be reached at email@example.com