MEXICO CITY (AP) — There it was on video: Five heavily armed policemen barge into a hotel in western Mexico before dawn and march out with three handcuffed men in underwear.
But police weren’t making an arrest. Prosecutors say they apparently were taking orders from criminals. Just hours after the three were seized, they were found asphyxiated and beaten to death.
Mexicans have become inured to lurid tales of police collaboration with narcotics gangs during 5 ½ years of a drug war that has cost more than 47,500 lives. But seldom can they actually see it occur, and the video broadcast on national television was a shocker.
“One assumes that in some cities … the municipal police work for the drug cartels,” said Jorge Chabat an expert on security and drug trafficking at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching. “But what is different here is that there is a video. It’s not the same thing to imagine that this going on, and to see it.”
While the kidnapping and murder occurred in January, and the faces of several officers were clearly seen on the videos, the officers were not detained until June 6, when soldiers and state police raided a local police station. And they still have not been formally charged with any crime.