Originally published on December 25, 2014, at NationofChange.org
After years of silence, the office of Mexico’s Attorney General declassified a document admitting police officers had participated in the kidnapping and massacre of hundreds of migrants throughout northern Mexico. While working for Los Zetas drug cartel, police provided illicit protection, assisted in kidnappings, and turned a blind eye to the investigation of numerous mass graves. Caught in a turf war between the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, at least 314 migrants have died at the hands of the police and cartels.
According to a recently declassified memo sent from the office of Mexico’s Attorney General to The National Security Archive, local police in the city of San Fernando in northern Mexico have been working for the Zetas for years. A DEA cable from 2009 noted many Zetas had been recruited from an elite Mexican Army unit known as the Grupo Aeromóvil de Fuerzas Especiales (GAFE). No longer operating as the enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas expanded into new territory and asserted control through murder, intimidation, and corruption.
In August 2010, San Fernando police officers set up roadblocks and pulled at least 72 mainly Central American migrants off intercity buses. Instead of detaining the migrants, police officials handed them over to the Zetas who extorted fees for safe passage across the border and forced them work as drug mules. The Zetas executed everyone who could not afford to pay or refused to smuggle drugs across the border. The bodies of 58 men and 14 women from Central and South America were later discovered at a remote ranch in San Fernando.