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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The High Cost of Torture in Mexico

Posted by DD republished from Human Rights Watch
Originally published in Animal Politico
Managing Director, Americas Division

Secretary of Defense (SEDENA) Apologizes For Soldiers Using Torture
 Torture will be on the agenda of the Mexican Congress this month. Curbing the widespread practice should be an urgent priority for all branches of the Mexican government. Its impact on Mexico has been devastating, not only for the many individual victims, but also for the credibility of the criminal justice system itself.



Take, for example, the case of Taylin Wang and “Pedro Salazar,” a kidnap victim for whom we’ll use a pseudonym to protect his identify and privacy.

Wang came to Mexico from her native Peru seven years ago in search of a better future for her children. She found work selling clothes, then opened a Peruvian restaurant. She married a Mexican, and together they were raising her 7- and 9-year-old daughters and 16-year-old son. When the federal police raided their home in February 2014, she was 7-weeks pregnant.

Recently, Wang provided Human Rights Watch with her account of the raid, in the hope—she said—that her story might help prevent others from a similar fate.

Wang and her husband, who had gone to bed late after watching a horror movie, were awakened by police bursting into their residence around 3 a.m. The officers did not present an arrest warrant. Instead they pulled her out of bed, called her a “whore,” and demanded to know where her “lover” was. They took her husband to another room, where they were holding the three children.

One of the officers stripped off Wang’s nightgown and forced her onto the bed. With the other officers looking on, he raped her with his gun, mashed her breasts with his hands, and asked if she liked it.

The officers took Wang and her husband to a federal police installation. They refused to allow Wang to call the Peruvian consulate. They blindfolded her, beat her for hours, and forced her to sign a blank paper. “I scribbled whatever I could so they would stop beating me,” she told us.

Wang was then driven to the Attorney General’s Office, where she noticed she was bleeding, as if having her period, only far more heavily. The bleeding continued for days, even after she was transferred to a prison in Nayarit state. She later got confirmation that she had a miscarriage.

An official medical report dated four days after her arrest notes only “injuries that do not put her life at risk” and that “will heal in less than 15 days.” Yet an independent evaluation by a psychologist in October 2015 concluded that she had been tortured. And she continues to receive medical treatment to this day, including for the severe back pain she has had since the raid.

In October 2014, prosecutors charged Wang with participating in a kidnapping ring. The evidence against her included the testimony of the police and two other alleged members of the ring. The police claimed they had detained her, not at 3 a.m. in her home, but at 10 a.m. in another location, where they also found a kidnap victim, handcuffed and blindfolded. The other suspects claimed she had participated actively in their criminal activity.

The prosecutors also presented testimony by the kidnapping victim, Pedro Salazar. Salazar gave a horrifying account of being taken at gunpoint, beaten, kicked, and forced, with threats of asphyxiation, to repeat the ransom demand to his relatives: pay the kidnappers US$2.5 million or they would cut off his fingers.

There is absolutely no question that Mexican authorities should ensure that the people responsible for this terrible crime are brought to justice. But there is good reason to doubt the allegation that Wang was one of them.

The prosecution’s case is full of holes. First, there is the highly dubious claim that the police had known a crime was taking place in the house where they detained Wang —and so entered without a warrant— in part because they had encountered her husband outside and he had informed them, of his own volition, that he was holding a kidnap victim inside. 

Second is the fact that three of Wang’s neighbors testified that she wasn’t at that house but rather at her own, corroborating her account of the raid. The prosecutor discounted their testimony claiming with no clear evidence that the neighbors must have been coached on what to say.

Third is the fact that the prosecution relied on Salazar’s positive identification of Wang’s voice (he had never seen her during his captivity) in a procedure which included no other female voices for comparison.

Finally, most disturbingly, the prosecution relied on incriminating statements that the other alleged gang members had retracted, saying they had been tortured and were false.

It wouldn’t be the first time Mexican prosecutors built a case on coerced testimony. The authorities’ use of torture has marred investigations into the forced disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa and the killing of 22 civilians in Tlatlaya in 2014. And those are just the famous cases. Over the past decade, Human Rights Watch has documented scores of cases of torture by security forces in Mexico—beatings, asphyxiation, electric shocks, and sexual violence, among other tactics, often with the aim obtaining information or coercing incriminating statements.

This use of torture to “resolve” cases makes it far more difficult for crime victims and their families—whether it’s Salazar or the families of the Ayotzinapa students—to get the justice they deserve. These brutal methods produce fundamentally unreliable information, destroy the credibility of the judicial process, and, too often, result in the jailing of innocent people.

In December 2015, President Enrique Peña Nieto proposed a general law on torture that would, among other things, reinforce existing prohibitions on using torture to obtain evidence. Last year, the Senate passed an improved, though not perfect, version, but the Chamber of Deputies then weakened several key provisions in its own version of the bill. Last month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ office in Mexico published an analysis of this draft legislation, identifying provisions that must be modified to comply with Mexico’s human rights obligations. In the legislative sessions that begin this month, Congress has an opportunity to incorporate these modifications and pass a stronger bill.

Given Mexico’s deplorable record of torture, Congress should pass a strong law to curb the practice. Yet real change will only occur if and when Mexican authorities—from the president to the prosecutors, courts, police, and military—feel compelled to take anti-torture laws far more seriously.

In the meantime, Pedro Salazar has yet to receive a reliable account of who kidnapped and brutally abused him. And in a women’s prison in southern Mexico City, Taylin Wang awaits the outcome of a fundamentally flawed criminal prosecution for a crime she insists she didn’t commit.


  1. I think chivis is fine.

  2. Is he the guy that want to put 2 hands up n leave town? The quitter?

  3. Many times there is no law in mexico
    Look at Dr. Meriles

    1. Dr Mirrales pissed the government . He is a political prisoner. Defying the government and uprooted a movement which threatens Mexican government. He was surpresed for political and vested interests.

  4. Ask parents of 43 students

  5. Just reminds me of the scene in Sicario where the cartel boss is talking to Benecio del Toro's character, "You think the people who sent you here are any different? Who do you think we learned from?"

  6. I would have hired someone to kill the officers involved in raping the guys wife. Police or not!!! You don't do that to a woman and espically someone's wife. Cops act like they can't get merked in Mexico. I don't care how much I had to pay I would have pay someone to kidnap the officer that raped and made his wife have the miscarriage and tortured him before peeling off his skin with a pair of pliers. There's somethings worth killing someone over and this is clearly one of them!!!

    1. I can understand your point of view. Such conduct is not appropriate. However will such actions justify to bring you to level of uncomprehending behavior to that of a parasite?

    2. I would rather society think of me as "parasite" then my wife and family think of me of a man not willing to defend the honor of his wife. And for your information how could anyone think of another man for killing someone doing this to his wife an unborn baby a parasite? You don't obviously understand what I said in my first comment... I said if there's a reason to kill someone this would be it. Your the type of person who would let someone molest his kids and turn the other cheek!!! Grow some nuts man. If you don't understand that you never will. And I actually pray that someone doesn't do anything to your loved ones .. Sincerely I do
      .. Because I know they couldn't count in you if someone did!!!

  7. And what's crazy about this, you have people protesting about the USA and worrying about our president, shit, worry about you alls failed country,pendejos.

    1. Ignorant you not see the protests down there as well?? Two separate issues and both have protests....just because they don't change doesn't mean people are not speaking up - this article does just that..put awareness out there. Stop judging.

  8. Unfortunately Mexicos transparency for this activity is well known. It's a 2 way street where some feel this treatment should apply to Narcos , kidnapping cells, and cartel hit men. The information is valuable to apprehend such criminals. However while human activists totally disagree. Where comes the debate. When can u apply such measures and where not to.
    It's controversial. Such treatment is necessary for individuals who fall in the terrorism category.
    I do not oppose such tactics against those who meet that dangerous category.
    Imagine all the valuable intel from such tactics against cartels, ect. But then again Mexico uses such tactics on less priority individuals then the scumbags who are wreaking havoc. Then again they are part of the problem why Mexico is so ignorant and corrupt. No check and balances .

  9. Police barged into a woman's home to rape her? That is the most cowardly abuse of the justice system I've ever heard. How pathetic must these officers be? I genuinely would stick an e broomstick up the cops backside until it reached his heart for raping my wife with a gun, killing my baby. What cowards, acting lawless behind that farce of a badge.

  10. He needs to be raped with a gun as well..Only his rape should have a EXPLOSIVE/HAPPY ending..The bullet up his ass..

  11. The Mexican congress is about to pass a law that ratifies the military's presence on Mexico's streets. That is, under Mexico's constitution, the only time use of the military for law enforcement purposes is legal is to protect national security when martial law is declared. Calderon began the use of the military for law enforcement purposes, a function that it is totally unsuitable for. This is the main reason that human rights violations in Mexico have escalated to scandalous levels. Even though military personnel who torture or murder civilians rarely, if ever, get prosecuted, I think that Mexican generals are acutely aware that they may be tried in an international tribunal for human rights violations. This is why the PRI/PAN/PRD now want to legitimize the military's use of force. It will militarize law enforcement and will not solve the drug trafficking problem.

    1. @2:03 Very good comment Hope we see more from you.


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