‘Mexican Local Police Kidnapped by Fellow Officers, Tortured’

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Five municipal police who were found drunk in a bar in Durango state after being reported missing days earlier now say that state police kidnapped them and handed them over to a group who tortured them and forced them to drink alcohol.

Five municipal police from the town of Lerdo, Durango, including the police chief, disappeared on October 15, prompting the mayor to initiate a search for them. On the morning of October 18, the missing police were found, inebriated, in a bar in the state capital. At that time, the state attorney general, Sonia Yadira de la Garza, told La Jornada that none gave any indication of having been taken against their will.

After returning to Lerdo, however, the five men held a press conference in the mayor’s office and said that on October 15 they were intercepted by state police, questioned about linkages to organized crime and then taken, blindfolded and handcuffed, to an unknown location, reported Milenio. The state police then handed them off to a group of men who tortured them, forced them to drink alcohol, and then dropped them at the bar where they were later found, they said.

One of the men has been hospitalized for second and third degree burns, and the others showed the press injuries such as bruises, ligature marks, and burns reportedly made by a blowtorch (see video, below).

In an interview with Milenio after the press conference, a spokesman for Durango’s Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) echoed the attorney general’s original statement that the men had not reported any injuries to state authorities, but promised a full investigation.

InSight Crime Analysis

If the officers’ account is true, it illustrates the enormous challenges faced by Mexico’s municipal police. While local police forces in Mexico have a well-deserved reputation for corruption, their jobs are extremely difficult: they are often poorly paid, hopelessly outgunned, and thus vulnerable to pressure or violent reprisals from criminal groups.

The use of abusive methods to root out corrupt police officers has also been reported in Tijuana, where municipal police chief Julian Leyzaola was accused of overseeing the abduction and torture of officers suspected of links with drug gangs.

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