Apr 9, 2008

Mexican army warns of "cartel" gang rapes

Copyright (C) 2007, 2008 Peace at the Border, Peace Books

Mexican army officials warn Juarez drug cartel plans to commit crimes, including gang rapes, to discredit the military

April 9, 2008

By Kelly McKenzie

JUAREZ -- Mexican army officials issued a warning April 8 concerning possible plans of the Juarez drug cartel to impersonate soldiers and commit crimes, including gang rapes, to discredit the current military operation underway in the state of Chihuahua.

Juarez city police also issued a written advisory warning the public to be on the lookout for suspicious activity by such imposters.

The military based its warning on alleged intelligence.

Alleged soldiers reportedly have set up phony checkpoints to harass and extort residents, and have broken into homes without search warrants to steal money and equipment.

Mexico City columnist Carlos Ramirez published a column in El Financiero alleging that opponents of the military crackdown in Chihuahua were working in unison to smear soldiers on the pretext that army members were violating the human rights of residents of Juarez, Chihuahua, including police detained by the military on suspicion of possession of illegal drugs and unauthorized weapons (AK-47).

The complaints against the military increased after soldiers conducted a commando-type operation at the funeral in Villa Ahumada of a local drug lord, and detained dozens of people who were at the gathering.

In El Paso, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced the indictment of Enrique "Riquin" Escajeda in connection with various drug charges.

The DEA have described Escajeda as a highly dangerous individual.

U.S. officials also said Escajeda was part of a family-run drug organization that operated in Guadalupe Bravos, Chihuahua, opposite Tornillo, Texas.

The drug organization is suspected of having its members dress up like Mexican soldiers when they attempted to cross marijuana across the Texas border on a previous occasion.

Their encounter then with sheriff deputies at the border became highly controversial after Mexican federal officials denied the military was involved in the incident.

Last week, Mexican officials in another Mexican state announced the detention of several military intelligence soldiers, including a major, on suspicion of leaking information to the drug cartel.

In March, several Juarez residents reported seeing drug lord Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman in the company of Mexican soldiers.

The witnesses could not tell whether the drug lord's military escort was genuine or phony, or if it was a contingent of corrupt soldiers.