Mexican General’s Murder Raises New Questions over Narco Ties

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Retired Mexican General Mario Acosta Chaparro, accused of ties to the Juarez Cartel, was murdered in Mexico City, raising suspicions over his relationship with the criminal underworld.

Acosta (pictured) was shot three times at a garage in Mexico City on April 20. According to eyewitnesses, the ex-general was murdered by a lone gunman who then fled the scene on a motorcycle, reports the LA TImes.

Acosta was arrested in 2000, and sentenced to 16 years in prison two years later for aiding and protecting former Juarez Cartel leader Amado Carillo Fuentes. However, the conviction was overturned in 2007, when a panel of judges ruled that the prosecutors had failed to successfully prove the links between Acosta and Carillo. After Acosta’s release, his rank of general was reinstated shortly before his retirement the following year.

The former general was also accused of involvement in the disappearances and killings of Mexican left-wing activists during the 1970s and 1980s, when the government of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) waged a so-called “dirty war” against suspected rebels. These charges were similarly dismissed.

A motive for the killing has yet to be established according to Mexico’s Attorney General Jesus Rodriguez Almeida.

InSight Crime Analysis

Acosta was briefly brought out of retirement by President Felipe Calderon to act as government representative in negotiations with some of Mexico’s biggest drug gangs, according to Proceso. Between 2008 and 2009, Acosta is alleged to have met with the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, the Beltran Leyva Organization and the Zetas, among others, in an attempt to get them to reduce the levels of violence. These talks ultimately failed, the magazine said.

Calderon’s choice of Acosta as a representative points to the former general’s murky dealings with the Mexican underworld and his stature within it. Acosta had previously survived an assassination attempt in 2010, which suggests that there was certainly a strong vendetta (or perhaps several vendettas) against him.

Acosta’s alleged ties to the Juarez Cartel, while serious, is only one of the most noteworthy cases involving collusion between the military and organized crime. Troops in Juarez may have at one point collaborated with former Zetas members, according to a 2009 US State Department cable released by WikiLeaks. There are also fears that many military deserters have found new employment in the ranks of criminal groups. The whereabouts of over 40 percent of the 56,000 who have deserted the military during the Calderon administration is unknown, prompting fears they may have changed sides in the hope of receiving better pay from drug gangs.

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