Mexican Police Commander in CIA Shooting ‘Cover-Up’

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A federal police commander has been charged with providing false information to investigators about an attack by police officers on two CIA agents in central Mexico.

On November 13, federal prosecutors announced that Inspector General Juan Manuel Pacheco Salgado had been arrested over accusations that he lied to authorities about the details of the incident. A diplomatic vehicle, carrying two CIA agents, was attacked by gunmen on August 24 in central Morelos state.

El Universal reported that Pacheco, who was in command of the 14 officers arrested over the shooting, had initially said that his men were in uniform at the time of the incident. Subsequent investigations, however, found that the suspects were wearing civilian clothing. The police commander is also accused of ordering his men to hide the automobiles used in the shooting, which lacked any police markings.

InSight Crime Analysis

Pacheco’s alleged role in covering up the events is the latest sign that the shooting, which Mexican authorities initially chalked up to a case of mistaken identity, was a targeted attack on the CIA agents, perhaps at the behest of organized crime. In early October, US and Mexican officials familiar with the investigation said that the attack might have been a hit ordered by the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO).

While the motive for the shooting is unclear, sources told La Jornada that the CIA agents had been working with the Mexican Navy for at least three and a half years, which would mean that they could have been involved in the operation which killed BLO leader Arturo Beltran Leyva in December 2009, providing a possible motive for revenge.

Pacheco’s arrest is another blow to the reputation of Mexico’s Federal Police force, which had generally been thought of as less corrupt than state and local police agencies. Federal agents killed several colleagues in a shootout in Mexico City’s international airport in July, and nearly 10 percent of the force was dismissed in 2010 for failing background checks.

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