Wednesday, June 13, 2018

How the Chief of Police created a reign of terror in Veracruz

Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from a Noreste article

Subject Matter: Forced disappearances by Police forces
Recommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge required

Reporter: Nathaniel Janowitz
Hugo Murrieta could draw anything. When their birthdays approached, the children of the city of Coatepec knocked on the door of the house where he lived with his mother on the coast of the Gulf of the violent state of Veracruz. They told Murrieta what his favorite cartoons were, mostly from Disney movies, and he drew them with messages that they put on their birthday parties.

"I never charged them, I just asked them for the material," says his mother, María del Carmen. "He did it because he liked to draw."

The lady is famous in Coatepec for the delicious chiles she has been preparing and selling daily for decades. Every day, Murrieta, 22, helped his mother make deliveries throughout Coatepec and in the nearby city of Xalapa, the state capital, in the taxi he drove from time to time.

To Murrieta's bad luck, the taxi was on the police target list and was the target of the Reaction Force established by the ex-secretary of Public Security, Arturo Bermúdez, an official who called himself  by the code name "Jaguar" . On the afternoon of April 16, 2013, Murrieta was arrested, beaten and never seen again.

Almost five years later, on February 8, 2018, a federal judge indicted 31 members of the state police, including Bermudez, of the forced disappearance of 15 people between April and October 2013. The details of Murrieta's case was made known during a hearing of more than 13 hours, and although he was not on the list of the 15 disappeared, these officers were accused of his disappearance.

The PAN administration that followed Duarte reviewed the existing files and raised the figure to some 3,600 disappeared between 2006 and 2016, and has discovered many clandestine tombs, such as Colinas de Santa Fe, just outside the port of Veracruz, where 250 skulls were found in 2017.

The defendants, the press and the families of the disappeared listened while reading the statements of two former police officers who became witnesses to the government and those of a man who survived the detention and torture at the hands of Bermudez's men. The indictment of the state attorney generals office pointed out that during the Bermúdez period as Secretary of Security an illegal and clandestine policy was implemented that implied the "systematic violation of human rights" because "it detected, arrested, tortured and disappeared through the use of the force, people presumably linked with groups of organized crime ".

In his testimony at his appearance, one of the ex-policemen who witnessed and participated in the kidnapping explained in detail how the Reaction Force, under the orders of Alejandro Trujillo, a subordinate from Bermúdez who used the alias of "Cíber", surrounded Murrieta's taxi close to 4:30 in the afternoon that day of April 2013, just outside the Municipal Palace. Trujillo had a list of taxi numbers. The white and red 505 of Murrieta was in it.

The officers took Murrieta to a place behind a gas station where Trujillo interrogated him while two of his men beat him. Trujillo made a call and gave his men the order to take Murrieta to the Police Academy of Lencero, in Xalapa, to be transferred to a special unit called Los Fieles. His mother never saw him again.

The Attorney General of Veracruz, Jorge Winckler, insists that the new government of the state, headed by the National Action Party (PAN), undertook to discover the truth of what happened during the six years of Duarte's government. The disappearances that are being investigated, he said in a statement to The Intercept, are more than those of 15 people who were named in 2013 in the accusations against Bermúdez. Many cases, like Murrieta's, are still open. To date, there are 53 municipalities in the state in which there is at least one report that state security forces allegedly participated in enforced disappearances.

"The investigations will continue until all those who participated in this illegal and clandestine policy of systematic disappearances through the use of force are punished," says Winckler.

"They say many things, like they took many of the kidnapped to the Academy, who had them there and killed them, and then fed them to animals." Vicky Delgadillo, family member of the disappeared in Veracruz

Lucy Diaz, representative of a group of families of the disappeared in Veracruz, believes that the most recent arrests are just "the tip of the iceberg."It explains why countless accomplices that are guilty are still free, including the "worst of all", Javier Duarte.

Díaz says that unless he is accused of enforced disappearances, "Duarte is going to get out of jail with his money and everything laundered, with his money clean." "This is the worst misfortune," he adds.

Groups of grieving families such as Diaz's have been organizing for years, investigating cases and searching for family members throughout the state because they do not trust the government's assertions. When the government of Duarte concluded, his government only recognized the disappearance of 524 people in Veracruz.

The litany of abuses allegedly committed by Duarte's state forces goes beyond the disappearances. His security forces operated an illegal detention center outside the Lencero Police Academy, which also housed a zoo full of exotic animals. There they made arrests, interrogations, and disappearances with relentless efficiency and without concern for due process.

In October 2013, it became known that the Police Academy functioned as an illegal detention center when, mistakenly, Jaqueline Espejo, a Veracruz highway police officer, was tortured there for several days. According to the testimony of the witnesses, the Trujillo team stopped Espejo when his shift ended and climbed into Andrés Aguilar's taxi, which was on the police target list. According to the accusation, Los Fieles let Espejo leave Lencero if he "forgot about the taxi driver". Aguilar never heard again.

In January 2014, the bodies of Gibran Martiz, contestant of "La Voz México", and his 17-year-old friend, appeared on a bridge with signs of torture. They had disappeared 13 days before, together with a third friend, after the police conducted a search without a court order in their department of Xalapa. Martiz's father investigated the case independently and says that the final GPS coordinates of the singer's phone marked Lencero.

Lencero worked as a kind of open secret. The Duarte government remodeled the old building at the beginning of its administration, enlarged and remodeled the facilities and added some details, such as Bermúdez's exotic animal zoo, which supposedly had four crocodiles, a lion and, of course, a jaguar.

Vicky Delgadillo, who has been looking for her daughter Yunery for years in ranches, pantheons and wilderness areas, has heard frightening rumors of the zoo.

"They say many things, like they took many of the kidnapped to the academy, they had them there and killed them, and then they gave them to the animals," says Delgadillo.

Yunery disappeared on November 28, 2011. She is one of 13 girls who disappeared from Xalapa in a three-day period. It is said that some of them went to ranch parties with government officials and crime figures and that they disappeared because they knew too much.

"It's something inhuman, unforgivable. If Bermudez did this and did it with his police ... ", continues Delgadillo.

The statements of the two witnesses who appeared at the Bermudez trial, together with Espejo's testimony, present a dark picture of the operations inside the Duarte security forces under the direction of Bermudez.

On September 22, 2012, federal authorities arrested 35 Veracruz police officers allegedly working with Los Zetas. Shortly after, according to witnesses, Bermudez had a meeting with police from at least eight different units across the state.

Bermúdez explained the new protocol that did not make room for clemency. One of the witnesses remembers: "Pendejos, if you have relatives, friends or acquaintances who have a relationship with Los Zetas, report them. And if among your colleagues there are people working with Los Zetas, report them or bring them to Los Fieles at the academy because I do not give a fuck ".

Two teams of the Reaction Force were created. One was under the command of Trujillo, or El Ciber, and the other under that of a commander named Mario Durán. Each team worked in 24-hour shifts and, according to one witness, collected about 15 people a month.

When they arrested a suspect, they would take him somewhere to interrogate and torture him; Women were systematically raped. One of the disappeared was a 17-year-old girl named Cecilia de la Cruz, who was raped by several members of the Reaction Force, including El Cíber, according to the police report. A witness also stated that El Ciber had a predilection for transgender women, whom he arrested for interrogation and then raped them.

Once the interrogation was over, the team leader called Bermudez, or one of his direct subalterns, to decide if the defendant was transferred to Los Fieles in Lencero. One of the witnesses estimates that they took around five people a month to Los Fieles. He personally remembers that his team transferred around 50 people. Fuerza de Reacción had little relationship with Los Fieles, a group led by Roberto González Meza. When transferring detainees, the witness indicates that Los Fieles were always masked and hooded. According to the Duarte government, Los Fieles did not exist. They never appeared in the government budget; however, both witnesses indicate that they received much higher salaries than normal policemen.

Los Fieles kept detainees in cells in a secluded area of ​​the Lencero, known as "El Búnker". There they carried out more interrogations and tortured them, and then they disappeared. Another ex-witness, who worked in another part of the academy, said that he heard Los Fieles talking about taking people to "Laguna Negra". The witness declares that "Laguna Negra" was the code word of the Barranca de Aurora that is in the surroundings and that it is an area of ​​forests with deep cliffs and rugged canyons on the outskirts of Xalapa.

Search groups found the remains of about 15 people in the Barranca de Aurora in January 2016, but to date, only a small fraction of the area has been searched.

Carlos Saldaña has participated in dozens of searches in recent years and has even descended to rappel down a cliff in the Barranca de Aurora. Saldaña's two sons, Karla and Jesús, disappeared in 2011. The car they were driving was later found in the hands of an ex-policeman. "During that government you did not know who to go to. You had to be more careful with the authorities than with the criminals, "says Saldaña.

It seems that the federal government will begin to take seriously the disappearances in Veracruz. A police source from the Special Prosecutor's Office for Investigation of the Crimes of Enforced Disappearance of the Attorney General's Office (PGR) confirmed that in May, its unit will join efforts with state investigators to conduct searches in Barranca de Aurora and other areas.

"We have to start finding the bodies because families are fed up.(Otis: No shit Sherlock, wouldn't you be if someone kidnapped, killed and fed your family member to wild animals). We have to find those responsible at all levels, "says the detective, who asked not to be identified because he spoke of an open investigation. He seeks bodies throughout Mexico.

"These things do not just happen in Veracruz. They also happen in Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, Guerrero, in many states of Mexico. But as this case involves the governor, all eyes look towards Veracruz. "

Alberto Olvera, a researcher at the University of Veracruz, recently published a report on authoritarianism and violence in Veracruz in what he called "an irregular war."

"It should be noted that in Veracruz there have been a series of different cycles in the way in which this relationship between the government, the police forces and organized crime occurs," Olvera said. And he explained that, while Herrera's time was "the era" of Los Zetas, the Duarte government "allowed" the entry of another group to Veracruz to eliminate them. In September 2011, 35 bodies were thrown on a road in the coastal city of Boca del Rio with a blanket announcing the arrival of the Jalisco Cartel Nueva Generación (CJNG), a split of the Sinaloa Cartel, by Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán The manta, it was reported, said: "This is what is going to happen to all the shit Zetas who stay in Veracruz. There is a new plaza owner. "

People then began to disappear in large numbers.

"As always happens in this type of war, there are many innocent victims," ​​Olvera said, highlighting the poor and most vulnerable, the lookouts (hawks), the drug dealers and the mules. "(In this they pay)?


  1. When I started reading and commenting here it was the gospel that the cartels were the devil's henchmen, soon i got the idea that the poor polesias from every corporation and the poor little under fed, uder staffed poorly paid army and marinas were just being overrun by the criminals who were buying all their poor abused ginirals, which could just not be true and wasn't.
    Chihuahua governor Cesar "el Capulina" Duarte has been accused of using quite a few of Juarez women in parties that were then disappeared to eliminate their witnessin', like Javier "La Marrana" Duarte de ochoa, El Capulina was a federal lawmaker who got with the program and came back to be a murdering land grabbing governor patrón of sicarios and drug traffickers and a gestapo styled police, La marrana and arturo Bermuda made a lot of points when they worked for fidel Herrera beltrán Z1 #2 and were already connected to their cabal well before they started their Marranato...
    The federal government still denies it all and supports La marrana while yunes Linares police does some of the same shit...
    Asesinan policias de yunes linares a dos niñas..."andaban con criminales empistolados, y tenian tatuajes..."
    More crimes have been happening u derived new governor yunes linares.
    No conspiracy theories anymore...

  2. 1. the policias pick up people for interrogation and kill the person. Because they are given orders from above. 2. the policias do the same as above but the orders come from cartel which has them on payroll. 3. cartel men wear identical policia clothing and ride around in cloned vehicles and do as above. Scary that all of these are true. it seems that everybody who is Mexican has had a family member dissapeared or found like swiss cheese. i have. FUBAR

    1. Wow that's how, the government of Mexico operate, and the police make extra money, working in collusion with Cartels, it is no wonder homicides are climbing every year, worse than Brazil.

  3. Duarte fudged up veracruz bad! He let cjng in, all the thousands of people disappeared and not to mention all the money he stole from that state. Smh


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