Mexican soldiers arrested for allegedly executing five cartel members after high-speed chase, crash

A group of Mexican military members was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly executing five suspected cartel operatives last month in the border town of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

Video footage of the May 18th “execution” showed the five cartel members’ black pickup crashing into a perimeter wall at high speed. Moments later, an armored vehicle containing Mexican military members bashed into the side of the truck.

The military members then surrounded the vehicle, pulled out the five cartel operatives, savagely beat them, and eventually opened fire on them, but not before coming under fire themselves from other suspected cartel operatives not seen on camera.

“Four of [the five cartel members] died at the scene. … An ambulance arrived an hour later for the fifth man, but he died on his way to the hospital,” according to CBS News.

Watch some of the footage below (*Graphic content):

The military members then allegedly tried to cover up their crime.

“Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, an associate professor at George Mason University who studies the border, [said] the soldiers were apparently trying to alter the crime scene to make it look like there had been an armed confrontation,” CBS News notes.

“It seems that the intention was to leave these bodies with weapons to make it look like a confrontation between armed groups of civilians, as has happened before,” she said.

Mexican President André Manuel López Obrador has since called the killings “an execution” and vowed that there will be justice.

“Apparently this was an execution, and that cannot be permitted. Those responsible are about to be turned over to the appropriate authorities,” he said Wednesday morning.

But according to Correa-Cabrera, the killings are also an indictment of López Obrador’s policy of relying on the military for law enforcement.

“It is clear that the armed forces have been participating in security in this city, and also that this city has never been made safe. As long as we have soldiers doing (law enforcement) duties in the streets, this is going to keep happening,” she said.

Indeed, this is the third case of extrajudicial killings to occur in Nuevo Laredo this year.

“On Feb. 26, soldiers killed five young men who were riding inside a vehicle. The men were apparently unarmed and in a report, Mexico’s governmental human rights agency said the soldiers had fired into the vehicle without giving verbal orders for it to stop,” according to CBS News.

“Angry neighbors attacked the soldiers, beating some of them. In April, federal prosecutors charged four soldiers involved with homicide,” CBS News notes.

That same month, a Mexican human rights organization reportedly filed a complaint accusing Mexican National Guard troops of having fired into his vehicle and killed his pregnant 15-year-old girlfriend and a 54-year-old friend.

But it’s not just a matter of the military acting badly. The Daily Mail notes that Nuevo Laredo has constantly been dogged by cartel violence.

“The day of the incident leading up to the massacre, multiple shootouts and road blockades were reported to authorities although no injuries or deaths were registered. Nuevo Laredo Mayor Carmen Cantún took to social media to advise residents to shelter at their homes and places of employment until authorities had a better sense of the reported events,” according to the Mail.

Crisis24, a news service by the Canadian private security firm GardaWorld, reported something similar.

“At approximately 14:30, exchanges of gunfire occurred near a shopping center in the Los Encinos neighbourhood, with further clashes likely in other areas. Armed individuals seized the vehicles of private citizens and used them to establish blockades to hinder the deployment of government security forces,” the news service reported on May 18th.

“Several businesses were hit by gunfire and entered by armed individuals. Reports indicate that the assailants were members of the Northeast Cartel (Cartel del Noreste, CDN), the dominant drug trafficking organization (DTO) in Nuevo Laredo.”

The Mexican military has, for its part, claimed innocence as per what happened on the 18th.

“According to El Pais, the military’s report to the Mexican Attorney General’s Office states that the soldiers were disarming the men in the truck when more alleged cartel members arrived and began firing on the soldiers. The men in the truck, meanwhile, attempted to recover their weapons, the military claimed,” Vice magazine notes.

“The soldiers began firing back, and only after the shooting was over did they realize that four of the detainees were dead and a fifth was in critical condition before dying at the hospital,” according to Vice.


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