Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Saturday, October 31, 2009

13th Day of the Search

With the continual search for three missing officers of the Federal Police of intelligence (SSPF) who are believed to have been kidnapped by organized crime in the small town of Benito Juárez 13 days ago, the Federal Police did not say why they suddenly left their operation in Ciudad Juarez without any official explanation. They had been part of the task force "Operación Conjunta Chihuahua" (Joint Operation Chihuahua).

According to media sources this is the first time that federal forces have completely abandoned an operation that started in March of last year. In mid 2009 half of the troops were sent to reinforce other police agencies against organized crime in Michoacán known as "La Familia."

Only a small detachment of 100 federal police remains in the city of Juarez. The majority of the federal police, about 3 thousand, were sent to the northwest of the state of Chihuahua to search for the federal officers.

The three missing officers, one of senior rank and reportedly a close associate of the Secretary of Public Safety Genaro Garcia Luna, had been in the region conducting intelligence work of organized crime prior to the ambushed and their disappearance. The relationship of the ranking officer to the Secretary could explain the reason for the huge amount of federal police involved in the search. It is not typical to use this many resources of federal police in the search for three officers when many more have disappeared in other occasions and not even a small search party was sent looking.

In July of this year, in the state of Michoacan, 12 federal police officers were kidnapped and were left piled up on top of each other on the side of the road after they were tortured and executed. The incident sent shock waves around the federal police and government. President Felipe Calderon took special interest as Michoaca is his home state.

After the executions took place reinforcements of federal police were sent to Michoacan, some of them came from Juarez who were part of Operación Conjunta Chihuahua. "La Familia" took responsibility of the masacre and numerous sicarios (hitmen or assassins) were arrested for the crimes. The sicarios had been identified through intelligence work from the federal police.

Of the most recent case of the missing feds, the authorities have not been willing to release any details of what really happened nor have they released the names of the missing officers. It is rumored that when the agents were ambushed a total of 8 people were killed, and there was even an unofficial report that Chief Inspector Jose Alfredo Peña Silly had been killed during the alleged ambush, but authorities have not confirmed nor denied those rumors.

So far the SSPF has refused to respond to inquiries from the media or agreed to provide any official information about the Kidnapping "levantón" of the federal police officers.

When the capture of victims inlvolves police officers, the method used to torture and execute them can be ruthless and vicious. Many times they don't kill the victims on the spot becuse they want a "levanton" so they can inflict the most pain and suffering imaginable. Almost in all occasions within days the kidnappers dump the dead bodies of the victims after they have tortured them and many times interrogated them for information. But on this ocassion it has been 13 days and nothing has been discovered.

It could be that the huge police presence in the area has prevented the kidnappers from completing their intended deed. The tactical decision to saturate the area with federal police officers, most certainly ordered by the Secretary, has obviously had an effect on the "levanton" of the  officers. This could be good news for the kidnapped officers who might still be alive hidden somewhere in the area.

The test will be how long can the kidnappers hold off before the large contingent of forces finally give up on the search and scale down their operation. The fact that one of the kidnapped officers has close ties to the Secretary could be the life saver for the officers and his status might allow for the federal officers to remain in large numbers until the bitter or better end.

One can only hope that soon the large search party stumbles upon the hiding place of the kidnappers and rescue their fellow officers from a certain violent and vicious execution. How many times have we seen the results of these circumstances, it sure would be nice if this had a different ending for once.

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