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

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The story of a soldier who was tortured by the military

Felipe Cobain R. for Proceso (6-12-2013)

Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat

GUADALAJARA, Jal. (Proceso).-- Sergeant Second Class Aaron Israel Gonzalez Espino was left epileptic, extremely thin, fragile and with psychological damage after long sessions, days of torture in the XXI Military Zone in Morelia, inflicted to make him admit guilt  for crimes allegedly committed by other military personnel.

Gonzalez Espino always said he was innocent despite the punishment inflicted during March and April, 2010, by military personnel who were members of the elite GAFE (Grupo Aeromovil de Fuerzas Especiales; Airborne Special Forces Group) and agents of the Military Judicial Police.

Lucid despite consequences that left him on the verge of death, the sergeant from the 37th Battalion, based in Zamora narrates his hazardous story.

Confined in the military prison of the V Military Region, based at La Mojonera, Zapopan, he recounts that he joined the Army in June, 2001, that he never got into trouble and that -- this is important -- he was always declared to be healthy in the yearly physical examinations done by the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena: Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional).

Everything went bad on March 31, 2010, he says. He was on leave when he got a call from a corporal nicknamed "El Nipon". The corporal gave the phone to Colonel Andres Ojeda Ramirez, who told Gonzalez Espino he would have to present himself in Morelia, and that they would take him there.

"El Nipon" went to pick him up at his house in Zamora. Without telling him what it was about, they put him in a pickup "that was driven by Corporal Demetrio Diego, and was also carrying Lt. Juan Manuel Vidal and military personnel with their faces covered."

When they got to Morelia, he asserts, they took him to the headquarters in the city. There, they brought him before the chief of the general staff, Gabriel Rincon. "He took me to the "gafes" (special forces soldiers) who were on the second floor of the XXI Military Zone. He told them, 'take care of him for me.' And they tied my hands behind my back and blindfolded me. They kept me there without food or water that day and did not explain to me why they were doing this," he recalls.

The next day, some people came to the place where he was being detained: "They told me that I was "El Espanol" ("the Spaniard"), which I denied, and they began to beat me: 'Somebody has already fingered you and recognizes you as "El Espanol.' Then they brought the 'colonel soldier'. I didn't see him, but I heard when they were beating him severely. After the beating, they put him in front of me, uncovered my face and he identified me as 'El Espanol".

That's how he began to learn that he was being accused of being in collusion with narcos and passing information to La Familia Michoacana.

The beatings intensified. "They slapped my face, the back of my head and my ears until they were left ringing. Two people picked me up and took me into the baths in the 2nd Company of the 12th Infantry Battalion."

They put him under the shower and were asking him how much he was paid to pass information. He answered that he had never passed information and would never do that. "Then you're giving it out for free?' No Sir, I've never given out information,'" he answered.

Afterwards, "one of them began to throw water on me over a wet cloth and they put a bag on me that covered my nose and mouth and tried to asphyxiate me by force. I don't know how, but I began to kick until I saw everything go white. They would get on top of my head and yell at me: "Die, fucker! I don't give a shit if you die, they've given you up, you're dead! I don't give a damn, die, already!", he remembers.

But the sergeant insisted he was innocent. "How would you like it if we plant drugs, grenades on your brothers or your parents? How many years do you think they'll do?' 'I don't know anything,' I answered. They asked me what I did in the (military) area. I told him I was a medical emergency technician and ambulance driver, and, on the side, I did carpentry work that commanders would ask for." He remembered that he was also the driver for the Commander of the XXI Military Zone himself, Mauricio Sanchez Bravo.

A little later, a loud laugh shook him up. "That's how I like it, for them not to say anything because that way I have more fun," said the guy who laughed. "Welcome to the second phase," he spit out. "They poured hot water on my face, cold water, hot water, cold water and they began to give me electric shocks. 'That's how I like it, when they don't talk, because I have more fun,' he told me. They left the wires connected to my foot and they would press on my knees so I could not bend them. My body would get stiff."

The man who enjoyed torturing went farther: "'OK, since you don't want to admit you're 'El Espanol' and that you work for the Familia, I'm going to keep going higher until I get to, you know where? To your balls, because you already have four children, you don't need them.'  And he began to give me electric shocks until he got to my testicles. I don't know how many times they shocked me, but I really would have rather died at that moment. I couldn't stand it."

At the same torture session, he claims, a military judicial police officer joined in. "One of those military judicial police officer, who I can remember quite well because of the way he talked, his cell phone rang and it was his girlfriend or somebody. He told her: 'It's just that I'm working, really!...You don't believe me?' And he started shocking me over and over and he put his phone to my mouth and was asking me: 'You're passing information to La Familia?' I said, 'No,' and he kept on shocking me. Then he said: "Did you hear that, love? I'm working."

That night, he assured us, he heard how they tortured other people.

Soon afterwards he started to urinate crimson-colored (urine): "My testicles hurt. I pissed red, I don't know how bright red it was." It was April 2nd.

It was not until the next day that he was brought before a military judge (MP; Ministerio Publico militar). And when he was in front of the military MP, testifying, he declared he was innocent. "I told the MP colonel  that I was not 'El Espanol' nor was I a member of La Familia."

After that, the torture stopped. But not the harassment.

Between April 7 or 8, they took him to sign a "disciplinary corrective" document issued by his battalion because, supposedly, a G-3 rifle had been lost. Now they were investigating him for that.

It was not until April 13 or 14, he recalls, that they took off the handcuffs and his blindfold. They paid him his salary. It was not until then that his relatives could visit him.

On the morning of April 19 they informed the sergeant and seven other detainees -- who testified against him under torture -- that there was an order for their arrest... because of the "lost" rifle. They transferred them to the military prison, where Aaron Israel Gonzalez Espino (soldier number C-6373801) is serving the sentence imposed in Cause No. 345/2010.

As a result of all this, he tried to commit suicide a year later. They took him to the Central Military Hospital in Mexico City. He was treated in the neurosurgery section for serious depression: "A history of convulsive crises.
The patient states that it began in 2010. This has happened to him on six or eight occasions, and on two of these incidents he has presented relaxation of his sphincter muscles, two urinary and one fecal. The subject class (soldier) is incapacitated in the first category for active military service because he suffers from epilepsy," reads the medical report.

However, once he was stabilized, they returned him to the same prison, despite a recommendation from the National Human Rights Commission and a protective order issued by the Fifth District Court.

The causes, in the air...

The sergeant says it didn't do him any good to have been the driver for the Commander of the XXI Military Zone, Brigadier General Mauricio Sanchez Bravo --retired -- and his wife. On the contrary: he believes that the commander himself may have set him up to protect himself.

It isn't clear to the sergeant why they went against him. All he remembers is that, before he was arrested, he became aware that someone was following him. Afraid he would be kidnapped, he "verbally informed Gen. Mauricio Sanchez Bravo, Infantry Lieutenants Fierro, counterintelligence commissioner, and Mario Sosa." He explains: "I was afraid I would be abducted (levantado), or that they would do something to the family of my commanding general, since I was I was the driver for him and his wife."

When he told this story during his detention, one of his captors speculated: "They may have wanted to get at our general..."

During the conversation with this weekly journal, Sgt. Gonzalez Espino assured us that he had never received an unlawful proposal from anybody, and that, if that had happened, he would have informed his superiors: after all, his life was at risk.    


  1. Pues ..................................

    Is Mexico Safe ?

  2. Mexico is garbage.

  3. crooked curupt military anit no surprise there.

  4. What the military is dirty, wow this is new to me.... noooot .. Mexico soon to bea shittier country than the middle east.. good thing I don't live there.. god bless the innocent people having to live there

  5. This goes out to all the good guys in Mexico Soldiers/Soldados,Policia/Police,Paramilitaires
    Any good guys left! You are not forgotten.
    In Mexico we know you have no voice.
    Hope this will comfort you.

  6. fuck sake,wot the hell could you do,if you were him and innocent? my poor balls..

  7. How sad. But Mexico is so proud of their soccer, oh futbal.

  8. Un vato- Such a sad and disturbing story. My heart and prayers go out to this man. It's clearly the reason so many honest men end up working for the cartels. The less of two evils. Other than the Mexican Navy,which I don't remember anything similar happening, it sucks to fight for your country there. Just saying...Peace. Texas Grandma. P.S. Why does no one seem to care about this story? SAD.

  9. Sure must be easier to point the finger at other countries, but come on people lets face the truth and that is that torture tactic's are tought by our own US goverment!, and paid for with our tax money. Lets rewind it and look at Irac and Afganistan and the torture tactic's that are being utilized by US contracted companies and special unit's of our goverment. Now lets also look at the weman who serve in our military and are raped over and over, and even disaplined because they speak up against the military.

    1. Torture tactics are what lead us to Osama bin Ladin and other terrorists you fucken moron

    2. You still live in your fucking bubble?have you ask yourself if he even existed?, and if he did do you think they really killed him? You're just a moron manipulated by the media

  10. i was a corporal from 29/btn in colima one time some body went to 10th military zone (colima) to tell them there was a big marihuana plantation in jalisco el encino they sen a seccion on soldiers to destroy it we were there for about 3 days then a general commander of 21military zone came over with many 200 soldiers took our guns end took as prissioners saying it was our marihuana fied we were arrested for a month (corporals n soldiers) sargents were prossedas criminals our commander had to ran away before they get him on the field so he lost all he was a captain.this was on the year of 84to 85 the general was corrupted n tried to blame us so after that i quit el ejercito mexicano it sucks

    1. Awesome story Sr. or Ms. When we were in Mexico i saw my dad fighting with two federales when we were working our fields. After they finally got him they arrested him and beat him up he kept talking back and kept getting beat up

  11. The is why Mexico lost over-half of its national territory after its independence from Spain-because of corruption in the military and corruption period. Not from The battle of San Jacinto or the Mexican-American War. The people of Mexico were sold out by its leaders, both civilian and military, and continue to be sold-out by its leaders. The moment Mexico throws off the yoke of corruption, it will become a nation of peace and bring back its innocence. Were is the new Benito when we need him.

  12. Holy shit man this dudes been set right up as a fall guy if your high ranking n corrupt your safe as fuck if your honest lower rank your just fucked no wonder so many go darkside n work 4 cartels on the side

  13. June 17, 2013 at 9:14 AM
    Sad to hear your story bro,i remember the young Marines who were filmed and killed by Z rats.No-one seemed to care very much,i always wonder about the young dudes you see in the Mexican services and think they got balls.I wonder sometimes why they even bother,people look at fat fuck capos with more respect than young soldiers and service personnel in Mexico?Glad to hear you at least ok.You right bro it does suck and its sad.Saludos bro.

  14. @ 6:06 pm Hey no, that's not true, people don't look at capos with more respect, all those cartel huggers and narco wannabes sure are loud but they are a minority. Most people are sick of the situation and would want them all to disappear.

    And as far as soldiers and police officers go, well, people don't trust them, and I'm sure you can understand why, army and navy have a better reputation and are much more respected than other corporations, but you can't blame the people for being suspicious when it's well known the corruption and abuses by the very same people who in theory are there to protect you. I've heard militars and federal police members complaining about how they are given orders to step aside and not act against narcos for example, and people are aware of this, you only need a few bad apples in the right positions to mess things up.

  15. 1:36 PM
    Bro,ill take your word for it,you know more than i about it.I,m glad you said that,i also understand what your saying about trust.The same can be said about a lot of countries in terms of authority,obviously different levels.It is something i wonder about though,young soldiers and marina having to always wear a mask and guard their identity and families,they really do have balls to be doing a sometimes thankless task,as you say they aren't all bad,but even then they must get pressured of the bad ones to conform?Its a dangerous job alright,how could a decent guy even survive?


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