[Marxism] Juarez Police Finally Begin to Come Under Investigation re: Murders of Women
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Fri Feb 20 18:24:59 MST 2004
Gains made in Juárez inquiries
Authorities investigate possible police role in women's slayings
Friday, February 13, 2004
By ALFREDO CORCHADO and RICARDO SANDOVAL / The Dallas Morning News
CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico While authorities continue investigating possible
police involvement in recent drug-related slayings, a leading Mexican
investigator said that officials are also looking for a former city police
officer suspected in a string of killings of young women. The federal
investigator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in an interview that
authorities are making significant progress in the investigation into the
killings of 14 women. Their deaths, which are part of a federal
investigation because they involve federal crimes, constitute only a handful
of the more than 300 slayings of women in Juárez over the last decade.
The investigator listed several lines of inquiry. In addition to
investigating the former police officer, authorities are examining a "public
educational institution" where at least four victims attended classes, a
local physician and drug gangs. Investigators also have a recorded voice
from phone calls made to the families of some victims calls made with
cellphones that belonged to the victims.
"We're making progress, one day at a time," the investigator said.
The reported progress comes as hundreds of people are expected to join
actresses Jane Fonda and Sally Field in a march todayaimed at raising
awareness of the unsolved killings of women in Ciudad Juárez. The march,
which will start in El Paso and ends in downtown Juárez, is for "retaking
the streets of Juárez," said Esther Chávez Cano, director of Casa Amiga, one
of several event organizers. "Our goal is to show our unity, strength and
solidarity with the women of Juárez. We are hardworking people who are fed
up with police impunity."
The sharpened focus on a possible police role in the women's killings stems
in part from the discovery in late January of the bodies of 12 men buried in
the yard of a Juárez residence. Police said the home had been used by a
suspected drug trafficker who was arrested Jan. 15 and is being held in El
Paso. Thirteen police officers most of them members of State Police
Cmdr. Miguel Ángel Loya Gallegos' night-shift homicide detail have been
detained and taken to Mexico City for questioning in connection with the
discovery of the bodies. Cmdr. Loya and three others remain at large,
investigators said, and another dozen local police officers have failed to
show up for work in recent weeks.
Authorities have been digging in the yards of at least six homes searching
for more victims of drug-related violence. Officials said this week that at
least two more bodies are believed buried at one location, and possibly more
at others. A senior U.S. law enforcement official, speaking on condition
of anonymity, said the slain men were probably independent drug traffickers
who tried to operate in Ciudad Juárez without the permission of suspected
Juárez cartel leader Vicente Carrillo Fuentes.
Law enforcement authorities on both sides of the border cautioned that they
have not established a solid connection between police and the women's
killings, but they said the possibility of a police role has become a focus
of their investigations. "These are crimes committed by powerful people
who know their way around and who are not afraid of transporting bodies from
one end of the city to the other," said another senior U.S. law enforcement
official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Who fits this profile, if not
policemen? We don't have the evidence, but our raw intelligence certainly
points in that direction."
In Mexico City, José Luís Santiago Vasconcelos, chief of Mexico's organized
crime task force, confirmed in an interview that municipal police are also
under investigation in connection with both the women's killings and drug
trafficking. Concrete evidence may emerge from the Mexican federal
investigation into some of the women's murders, investigators said. The
Mexican investigator said during an interview that authorities want to
question a former Ciudad Juárez police officer whose whereabouts are
unknown. Investigators are also talking to the former officer's partners.
The Mexican official said there is a common factor in the drug violence and
women's murders that cannot be overlooked: the emergence of local and state
police as hired guns for the region's powerful drug cartel coincided with
the start of women's killings in 1993. "We cannot discard the possibility
of a connection," the Mexican official said. "It's a strong possibility.
Maybe 1993 is not such a coincidence."
"The similarities and timeline are too important to ignore," said Jaime
Hervella, president of the Association of Relatives and Friends of
Disappeared Persons. Mr. Hervella's organization says that 32 U.S.
citizens are among those who have gone missing in Ciudad Juárez in the last
decade. The group has pressured Mexican federal authorities to take over the
investigations from state and municipal police.
Mexican officials say there is much at stake in solving the drug killings
and the women's killings. Lawlessness in Ciudad Juárez represents the most
pressing public safety challenge yet for the Fox administration, which has
won international praise for its work against drug trafficking and organized
crime. Now the federal government will "rescue Ciudad Juárez from the
criminal elements," Mr. Vasconcelos said. The work appears to be paying
dividends. Of 217 women reported missing in 2003, only four remain
unaccounted for, authorities said.
A new sign of the reach and power of drug organizations came to light this
week in Palomas, a border town 100 miles west of Ciudad Juárez. A U.S. law
enforcement official in El Paso said Friday that eight Palomas police
officers, along with one officer's wife and child, fled for safety to
Columbus, N.M., this week after a member of a drug-trafficking family was
given a traffic citation. Four of the eight officers have since returned to
Mexico, the U.S. official said, but the other four and the spouse are
applying for political asylum in the United States.
A critical factor in a reduction of violent crime in Ciudad Juárez,
investigators said, is that federal police have taken the place of local
police in key areas of the city, including downtown Juárez and the outlying
desert shanty towns of Anapra and Lomo de Poleo two of the region's
poorest communities, where dozens of the bodies have been discovered since
1993. "Welcome to the poorest of the poor," said Lomo de Poleo resident
Paula Flores de González, who plans to march today in memory of her slain
daughter, Sagrario, whose body was discovered six years ago. "We have always
said, any investigation needs to begin with the abuse of power by
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