Mexico Govt: Police Mistook CIA Agents for Kidnappers

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The Mexican government says the shooting of several CIA agents by Federal Police last month may have been an accident rather than a deliberate attack, but the incident still raises questions about the agency’s competence.

Mexican Interior Minister Alexandro Poire confirmed on September 4 that Federal Police attacked a diplomatic vehicle with CIA personnel and a Mexican marine captain inside because they may have mistook the occupants for suspects in a kidnapping case. The case, Poire said, was occurring in the exact area where the shooting took place. He added that the Attorney General’s Office is still investigating.

Poire refused to confirm that the agents, who were injured in the incident, were CIA personnel, although he did defend the presence of US government officials in Mexico.

In an interview with El Milenio, the alleged victim of the kidnapping in question, Salvador Vidal Flores Perez, defended the police officers against accusations that they intentionally targeted the Americans and credited the Federal Police with saving his life.

Proceso reported that an investigation by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office discovered there were three CIA personnel inside the vehicle, rather than two, as was initially reported. Other sources continue to indicate that there were only two CIA personnel, and that both have already returned to the United States, despite the ongoing investigation by Mexican authorities.

InSight Crime Analysis

The news that the shooting was an accident rather than a deliberate attack by corrupt officials is certainly welcome, but the details that have emerged paint a picture of incompetence of the Federal Police involved. The Mexican marine captain who was in the vehicle during the attack reported that the officers, who opened fire on the car without verifying the identities of the occupants, were not wearing their uniforms and were traveling in unmarked, unofficial vehicles.

As InSight Crime reported, this incident, along with a string of similarly embarrassing scandals such as the July shootout between different groups of police at the Mexico City airport, raises questions about the reliability of what is supposed to be Mexico’s premier law enforcement agency.

The CIA significantly increased its presence in Mexico last year, sending agents to work side by side with Mexican law enforcement and intelligence officials on Mexican military bases.

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