By Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat
On New Year’s Day of this year, I wrote an article for Borderland Beat and titled it “A Closer Look: Who Were The 35 Slaughtered in Veracruz?” I wanted to bring to readers the probability that the dead were not criminals, but rather they were victims chosen randomly to create a macabre display so monstrous it would shock and terrorize citizens and grasp the attention of the world press.
It was September 2011, in Beautiful Boca del Rio, Veracruz. Amid rush hour traffic, adjacent to the World Trade Center and Plaza of the Americas, there just before an overpass laid a gruesome sight; 35 bloody, bounded, nude or semi nude corpses had been thrown to the pavement of Adolfo Ruiz Blvd.
The victims all bore signs of extreme torture. “Branded” with paint messages on each of their bodies the words “POR Z” (for Zetas., The majority had died of asphyxiation, a few by blunt trauma and one by gunshot to the head.
The gunmen displayed two banners declaring the dead were of the Los Zetas cartel, one banner read:
“THIS WILL HAPPEN TO ALL THE ZETA SHIT THAT STAYS IN VERACRUZ, THE PLAZA HAS A NEW OWNER…G.N. (GENTE NUEVA) . HERE LIES FERRAS AND HIS ROYAL COURT”
(Former Attorney General of Veracruz)
Within hours, and much too hasty for the comfort of those who are familiar with the interworking’s of an investigation, the Veracruz Attorney General Renaldo Escobar Perez announced most of the bodies had been identified and all had connections to organized crime, further all had criminal records for serious crimes, including kidnapping, murder, and drug trafficking.
The governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte wasted no time reaching out via social networks, Twitter and Facebook declaring the same as his attorney general. Irony was not lost on the fact that Duarte, the PRI Party Governor, had previously threatened to imprison anyone who sends out erroneous info via Twitter or any social network.
Months later the truth would be revealed, that in fact none of the dead had ties to organized crime and almost none had criminal records of serious crimes. Six had records of minor violations, such as fighting or stealing, and one was suspected of a serious crime which had no link to organized crime.
Jose Cuitlahuac Salinas Martinez, then Deputy Regional of PGR, now the head of the organized crime division of SIEDO, quietly waited until the investigation was complete before reporting “not of organized crime”, and “most without criminal history”.
In an interview by Joaquin Lopez Doriga, Salinas Martínez, reiterated twice the fact that the dead were not found to have cartel connections. Lopez Doriga pressed further by asking, “Both Governor Duarte and the then Procurator of Justice stated that the deceased 35 had a criminal records, do you corroborate that?”.
Salinas Martinez skillfully pirouetted around the fact that both the Governor and the Attorney General were either liars, or at best, mistaken, as he answered, “In regards to the statements by the then Attorney General and Governor, I cannot say anything because I don’t know about that, but in what it corresponds to the file that I had at my disposal, it is another perspective, for let’s say something in this regard, it’s another version…” answered Salinas Martinez.
Subsequently, Renaldo Escobar would resign, and the entire police force of Boca del Rio would be fired for corruption, the Marina (Navy) would fill in the policing duties of the municipality.
Incredibly, few in the global press have made corrections to the identity of the victims, that in truth among the dead were housewives, students, and a highly decorated police officer. For the most part the dead were good, hardworking, regular citizens; innocents used as props. Even on this date if one looks at the news accounts for the massacre, it remains attributed as a criminal on criminal crime and the dead were of the Los Zetas cartel.
The January post was well received, but a fair amount of readers balked at the notion, believing the words of executioner’s banner rather than the Federal Agency and the families of the victims.
Innocents, (civilian) being used by narcos to send a message is not a new theory, however as crimes became executed in greater numbers, and the increased intensity of the horror, people bravely came forth crying out for justice for their murdered loved ones, falsely accused of being narcos. Whereas the question of innocents being used by cartels has always been spoken about, at this point in time people are no longer rejecting the idea but coming to terms of its reality.
The Veracruz 35 and Chapala, and it is suspected that the Guadalajara’s, Jalisco, Nuevo Laredo, and Nuevo Leon recent mass killings were of innocents.
Additionally, there are the blogger murders. The first of the three executions were of a female and male couple, kidnapped, tortured and left hanging on a bridge in Nuevo Laredo. Next came the execution of a woman named Maria Elizabeth Macías, ( “La Nena de Laredo) her tortured, decapitated body was left near a monument in the center of a roundabout. Her decapitated head posed a top a computer keyboard.
A fourth victim ”blogger” named “Rascatripas” was a 35-year-old man was killed and left on the same roundabout as Nena. By narco messages left at the scene, Los Zetas took responsibility for the executions, declaring that the four were narco reporting on blogs
After it became apparent that the first two killed were not connected to a blog or news source reporting narco news, one could be assured that Zetas would strike again. That is when “Nena” was killed. It was confirmed that she was a contributor to Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, a citizens forum created for citizens to share information of narco activities.
With the last of the four, Rascatripas, was a message stating the man was a reporter for Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, nonetheless the blog via twitter rejected that notion, Nuevo Laredo Vivo (Nuevo Laredo Live) reported that the man killed is “not one of our collaborators,” but “a scapegoat” whose murder serves to send a message of fear. Saying the man never was a part of the blog, nor was there any other confirmation he was a reporter for a blog. In summation, 3 of the 4 have not proven to have a connection to a narco news blog.
Another high profile example is the Chapala, Jalisco massacre. On May 8 of this year 18 people were found murdered and dismembered. The massacre is the work of the Zetas allied cartel Milenio Cartel. Immediately the word was the victims were not cartel connected but were innocents.
The story did not stop there. First it was reported that the death total was to be higher, by 14. 14 kidnapped children were held in a guarded safe house in Tala. By incredible fate the sicario was late to the execution. Just late enough for the guards to become so high on drugs they passed out.
This offered the victims an opportunity to escape, all but two left through a window.12 boys left immediately leaving behind two that were imprisoned by fear. The decision to stay turned out to be a deadly one, as the two fearful boys were found one day later murdered and dismembered among the 18 killed.
On May 12ththe General Attorney of Justice of the State of Jalisco reported on the capture of the mastermind of the massacre of the 18 on May 9th. He was identified as, Juan Carlos Antonio Mercado, aka El Chato, the Chief of plaza of the Los Zetas cartel in Tala, Jalisco.
“Chato” pointed out that the 12 kidnapped who managed to escape from a safe house from his command, are “innocents” with no criminal ties.
“Randomly” Chato answered when asked how people were selected for execution. “People were going to be tortured and dismembered, to then be thrown to the Arcos de Millennium, my boss chose victims, he said who, then I kidnapped”, he would point out one and say “that one”, explained Chato.
Nuevo Laredo, on May fourth a total of 23 bodies were found, nine hanging off a bridge, with Zetas taking responsibility, then hours later fourteen dismembered “Zetas” with Chapo Guzman leader of the Sinaloa cartel taking responsibility. State authorities in a news conference stated the dead were regular citizens, not narcos.
On May 13th, 49 dismembered bodies were abandoned in Nuevo León, next to the bodies a banner signed by los zetas, the banner identified the dead as criminals.
Days later dozens of banners signed by Los Zetas, disclaimed responsibility. Reports on leading Mexican newspapers claimed justice is finally realized as the executioners were members of the Gulf cartel and who concocted a plan that Los Zetas would be blamed.
Eight members of the Gulf cartel were detained including a person using the moniker “El Loco”. The information was announced by SEDENA agency. Ultimately, “El Loco” was apprehended and identified by SEIDO (agency Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime) in the perp presentation as a leader of the Los Zetas cartel. The entire scenario created confusion and mistrust of the federal agencies that appear not to have been collaborating with one another.
The SEDENA agency indicated that though most victims were decapitated, not all, and those with heads had facial features consistent with Central America or “Southern Mexico”, and suspected to be, at least in part, innocents. For their part SEIDO has not issued a statement about the issue.
Reported in Milenio News Agency; before the discovery of the 49 butchered bodies, it was presumed, and gaining strength in recent months, that the evidence is clear that in many massacres innocent people have been represented as criminals by drug traffickers.
“Randomly” Chato answered when asked how people were selected for execution. “
The following the recording of “El Chato” member of the Los Zetas included is a translated dialog from the video.
Police: What is you’re name?
El Chato: Juan Carlos Antonio Mercado
Police: What is you’re alias?
El Chato: “El Chato” (Meaning flat faced…)
Police: Who do you work for?
El Chato: Cartel Millennium
Police: How many people did you participate in kidnapping?
El Chato: 16
Police: Where were you holding them captive?
El Chato: In a house in ..( I’m not familiar with Jalisco, I don’t know what town he says…)
Police: You were in charge of the operation, what did you do and how much were you paid?
El Chato: 7,500 pesos a week… (About 600 U.S. dollars…)
Police: For how long?
El Chato: Since mid April. We kidnapped them and were going to leave the bodies in the arcos de millennium, but we couldn’t because it was full of police and they were on to us, we couldn’t leave the bodies there…
Police: How did you choose the victim’s?
El Chato: Randomly…
Police: So they are innocent people?
El Chato: Yes…
Police: What was the purpose of this?
El Chato: To send a message, I don’t know…
Police: What message?
El Chato: I don’t know, a message for the government I think…
Police: Who were you doing this for?
El Chato: Fernando, he was the one that tortured them…
Police: You only kidnapped them or what else did you do?
El Chato: I kidnapped them, Fernando tortured them…
Police: What time of day did you kidnap them and what type of person did you kidnap?
El Chato: I would just get the order from Fernando, Fernando would come with me, he would just say “get that person”, and we would get them…
Police: Fernando is a ZETA?
El Chato: YES…
Police: What is his code?
El Chato: R2…
Police: What is your code?
El Chato: R8
Police: What does the “R” stand for?
El Chato: I don’t know, they just told me I am “R8″…
Police: Who told you?
El Chato: Fernando…
Police: Do you work for any other cartel’s?
El Chato: No…
Police: Who is directly in charge of you?
El Chato: Fernando…
Police: What is his alias?
El Chato: R2…
Police: Regarding the people in Tala .. (I dont know if thats the right town), when did you kidnap them and how are they related to the 18 bodies found in Chapala?
El Chato: We just fucked them up, Fernando got phone numbers from the people in Chapala…
Police: You were going to dismember them also?
El Chato: I think so…
Police: When did you kidnap the people that were killed in… (I don’t know the name of this town…)
El Chato: At the end of April…
Police: We have heard of a “Cuota”, was there a certain number of people you had to kidnap?
El Chato: First they told me 10 then later 15…
Police: Did you participate in the kidnapping of the 3 waiters from the restaurant in Chapala?
El Chato: No…
Police: Did you participate in the killing of the two young men?
El Chato: No, Fernando killed them, Fernando chose the victim’s…
Police: Why? What physical characteristics did the people have? (what type of people)?
El Chato: I don’t know, he just told me get this person or that person…
Police: How many people work for you?
El Chato: Seven…
Police: Are you sorry for what you did?
El Chato: Yes…
Police: When were you going to kill the 12 people that were found alive or what was the plan?
El Chato: Supposedly the 10th of May (Mothers Day in Mexico…)
El Chato: I don’t know…
Police: Did you take out money from an ATM with a victim’s bank card?
El Chato: That’s right…
Police: You were with others?
El Chato: Yes, “El Moco” (Booger…)
Police: El Moco works for you?
El Chato: We work together…
Police: How much did you take out of the ATM?
El Chato: 3,000 pesos (About 250 U,S. dollars…)
Police: What were you going to do with the money?
El Chato: I gave 1,500 to the guero… (Guero means light skinned person…)
Narco execution is not the only threat to the people of Mexico. A new report from the U.S. State Department reveals that Mexican police and the military have “engaged in unlawful killings, forced disappearances, and instances of physical abuse and torture”. The report findings are that the Mexican government is killing and torturing their people and covering the horrendous acts by altering records and being deceitful by safeguarding the truth from the public.
In late 2010, the respected Mexican News Agency El Universal published an article titled “Social Cleansing Not Drugwar”. The article detailed the determination of a small group of Mexican Senators and their effort to force CISEN (intelligence branch) to release documents and a report that contained evidence of “Comando Negro”, Black Commando death squads, also called “grupos de limpieza”, Social Cleansing Squads.
In September 2010, the Senate formally asked the Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN) for detailed reports about the existence of these groups, whom it called “death squads” because it is believed they may be responsible for a large number of murders officially recognized in this war against the drug cartels, and for thousands of unsolved disappearances.
“These groups operate outside the law with the knowledge and complicity of the Mexican State,” said Senator Ricardo Monreal Avila, parliamentary coordinator of the Labour Party and the leader of the group who sponsored the request for information from Cisen. It is thought that thousands of Army deserters, both soldiers and officers, and police officers fired for corruption make up these groups. They are “trained paramilitaries,” says the Senator.
Under the guise of authority the squads wear police uniforms, carry badges and drive patrol cars. In the article Universal asserts “ No accounting is given to what actually occurs, but if revealed we would see that there are not 28,000 murders, as the government insists, but more than 40,000. (These represent 2010 numbers).
In the book “El Sicario”, authored by Molly Molloy and Charles Bowden, Molloy in her introduction wrote about the Universal article and the death squads. The victims of these groups are the “malandros” or bad guys, gays, riffraff, all the elements of society that they deem human garbage. Below is an excerpt from the book;
The Universal article should have been an international bombshell, but the truth is the article was ignored not only by the Mexican press, but by the international press. Maybe it is not an eyebrow raising fact that the Mexican press ignored the article, but it is an outrage that the international press considered it unimportant and ignored the courageous article.
Perhaps that should be remembered when being critical with respect to the Mexican press coverage of the Drugwar.
To read the State Department Report LINK HERE
English Translated Version of “Soical Cleansing, Not Drugwar” Universal Article HERE
Further Information on the US State Department Report, by Chris Covert HERE
Chato Interview translated by “La Verga” of Borderland Beat Forum, found on “Chivos” postLINK HERE