Latin America: Week in Review, Mexico, North America

Eyewitness Accuses Mexican Troops of Executing Suspects Despite Surrender

September 19, 2014 By Staff

Top Story — New evidence and an eyewitness report suggest Mexican soldiers executed 21 suspected members of a criminal group this summer following a brief firefight initiated by the troops, the Associated Press reported.

The troops reportedly opened fire on the suspected gang members, who were holed up in a warehouse on June 30 in the town of San Pedro Limon in the south of Mexico state. One gunman was killed and two others wounded, while one soldier was injured.

When the rest of the gunmen tried to surrender, the soldiers allegedly interrogated them before executing them each with several gunshots to the chest, according to an eyewitness interviewed by the AP. The witness’ 15-year-old daughter was among those first wounded and later killed. Two of the other victims claimed they were kidnapped by the gang, but the soldiers shot them nonetheless due to apparent suspicions they were disguised criminals, the witness said.

AP reporters uncovered evidence supporting the eyewitness’ claims, including the spacing of blood spatters and bullet holes. Reporters found few shell casings or stray bullet marks to suggest an intense firefight. A doctor who examined the body of the eyewitness’ daughter reported wounds consistent with the witness’ description of her daughter’s killings.

The eyewitness had arrived at the warehouse the day before the killings in an effort to bring her daughter home. She was taken into official custody along with two other women who were being held by the gang members. She was later released, but the other two are reportedly still detained.

Mexican soldiers are ordered to fire their weapons only in self-defense or to protect civilians or other troops; officials insisted from the start that the soldiers were fired upon first and the Mexico state prosecutor’s office has denied the contents of the AP’s report. The country’s National Human Rights Commission is investigating the incident.

While several publications reported on suspicions surrounding the circumstances of the killings, many initial accounts, including that of La Jornada, a newspaper often skeptical of the military, repeated the official line.

Mexico’s military often faces accusations of human rights abuses; last Friday a group of international and Mexican human rights bodies asked the International Criminal Court to investigate reports of atrocities committed by troops, according to InSight Crime.

Update: This article has been amended to clarify the circumstances of the killings. The original version did not mention that two of the people who were shot claimed to have been kidnapped by the gang. The article was also edited to clarify the military’s rules of engagement.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • President Obama has nominated Maria Echaveste to be the next ambassador to Mexico. If she is confirmed, Echaveste will be the first female to hold the position.
  • U.S. Border Control will begin testing body-worn cameras at its training academy in an attempt to curb criticism regarding agents’ excessive use of force.
  • The Mexican art market has been suffering due to a new law intended to reveal the hidden profits of the drug world.


  • Only 75 out of 329 escapees have been recaptured since last month’s prison break near Petionville, Haiti. The maximum-security facility was over capacity by 130 individuals at the time of the breakout.
  • The Caribbean is one of the areas most vulnerable to climate change, according to Fox News Latino

Central America

  • Police found $4.1 million in supposed drug money in Costa Rica. The police arrested two men with handguns.
  • The United States has increased pressure on Guatemala to protect workers’ rights and meet provisions in the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement.


  • A popular Venezuelan cartoonist was fired after making a critical drawing on the country’s health care policies, reported the Associated Press. She worked for the paper El Universal, which is often critical of the government, raising concerns about the paper’s independence after it was acquired by anonymous shareholders in July.
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Madurohas ordered an investigate of doctors in the capital city Caracas for committing “psychological terrorism.” Following the death of nine people in the capital, the doctors alerted the public that there might be a chikungunya infection in Venezuela, reported The Wall Street Journal.
  • A gang called “The Office” in the streets of Medellin, Colombia, is forcing young virgin women into prostitution. The gang is putting these women “for sale” to foreign male tourists in the city, reported Chanel 4

Southern Cone

  • Marijuana cultivation is rampant across Paraguay, admitted the country’s top anti-drug agent Luis Rojas in a candid interview with InSight Crime.
  • The Brazilian real has dropped to its lowest level since Feb. 20 as a result of the U.S. Federal Reserve raising the dollar’s interest rate forecast.
  • Argentina is holding “a gun to our head,” a Citigroup lawyer argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan, over getting dragged into an ongoing battle between the South American country and a group of U.S. bond holders.

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[…] September, the Associated Press interviewed an eyewitness, who said she saw military troops execute the survivors of a brief gunfight, after they had been […]

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