Skip to comments.Mexico's handling of video blasted [AFI Zeta Executions]
Posted on 12/04/2005 7:33:28 AM PST by SwinneySwitch
NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico The parents of one of four presumed Gulf Cartel hit men shown captive in a gruesome execution video are criticizing the federal attorney general's office over its performance in the case and are questioning the government's resolve in fighting powerful drug cartels.
The parents acknowledge their boy, Sergio Alberto Ramon Escamilla, may be tainted by the drug cartel wars, but prosecution of those responsible for the video, believed to be federal agents on a rival cartel's payroll, has been a half-hearted effort, the parents said in an exclusive interview.
Out of fear for their safety, the parents asked their names not be published.
The grisly video shows four beaten and bound men sitting in front of a backdrop of black garbage bags. Each one reveals details of how the Gulf Cartel operates, then a gloved hand holding a pistol appears on the right side of the screen and shoots one of the men in the head.
The footage caused a stir big enough for Deputy Attorney General Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos to address it at a news conference in Mexico City on Thursday.
Eight members of AFI, the Mexican equivalent of the FBI, and two civilians, had been arrested in connection with the video, Vasconcelos said. Ten more arrest warrants remain outstanding.
The arrests weren't so clear cut, Roman's parents said.
They recounted their thwarted attempts to initiate a police investigation into their son's disappearance, in some cases contradicting Vasconcelos.
For instance, Vasconcelos said the suspects were arrested in two rounds Aug. 29 and Sept. 2. The parents said they helped finger the purported corrupt agents to officials in May, and that apprehensions were made at the end of that month.
In another development, the Mexican prison system revealed Friday that five of the jailed agents were freed in September because of lack of evidence. Vasconcelos made no mention of anyone being freed during his statement.
"I'm very upset that these men were let go," the father said.
The mother had stronger words: "If the authorities don't let themselves get bought, drug traffickers can't work freely in the country. That's why there is the snatchings, the kidnappings, and the murders."
A simple mechanic
Early May 5, Ramon, then 19, slipped out the door virtually undetected, pausing only to whisper to a sibling that he was heading to Acapulco with seven others for what he called a vacation.
The young man, who once waited a month before admitting to his mother that he had gotten a tattoo of her name on his back, didn't call his home until May 14.
In the apologetic conversation, Ramon said he was bored and ready to return home. Would she wire him some money for the trip back?
But the return trip never happened because, as federal investigators and now the public have learned, the young man didn't travel to the coast for leisure. Officials said he was sent there as a hit man for the Gulf Cartel.
The parents disagree about their son's level of involvement with "Los Zetas," the ruthless enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, made up of mostly former army commandos. Ramon's mother said her son showed no signs of being a cartel member. His stepfather admitted the young man was likely a low-level employee of the Zetas.
"He was just a simple mechanic," the mother said.
Blocked in Acapulco
Ramon's mother set up the wire transfer a day after her call. That afternoon, she received a call from the number that her son had used the previous day.
On the line was a gruff man, the mother said, who cussed and degraded her and told her: "We have your son. We're going to turn him over to 'La Barbie' (the nickname sued for a drug trafficker Edgar Valdez Villarreal). You've already lost him. Don't bother looking for him."
The man on the phone identified himself as an AFI agent. He didn't ask for a ransom and never called back.
Stunned, the parents traveled to Acapulco by May 18, looking for help.
They turned to federal agents for help with what then appeared to be a kidnapping case, Ramon's stepfather said.
"Those people brushed us off, they mocked us," he said.
The couple then went to Mexico City to the attorney general's office to file a complaint to use as leverage over the AFI agents who wouldn't help them in Acapulco.
They returned to Acapulco, where the agents listened to their complaint the second time around but said they knew nothing about the case, the stepfather said.
In Acapulco they met the wife of one of the other men missing. She said she also had been kidnapped but was released by the captors. Together, they filed a complaint with the only agency that would take a report, the tourism police. An affidavit dated May 23 confirms the report.
Bolstered by the statements of the released hostage, which included similar threats by AFI agents, federal officials called the couple back to Mexico City at the end of May, where they were shown photos of suspects.
On one page, the stepfather recounted, was a photo of "La Barbie" and many of the AFI agents who had thwarted them in Acapulco.
Authorities told them that the arrests were made the next day, the parents said.
Attorney General spokesman Arturo Isunez said Vasconcelos was the only person who could comment about the parents' story, but that he was unreachable.
"Until he returns to clarify these things, we cannot make any comment at this time," Isunez said.
Interpreting the video
Vasconcelos' interpretation of the video did match with some of Ramon's story.
Ramon, sitting second from the left and clad in a red shirt, was the most talkative and fidgety of the four. He described himself as a Gulf Cartel lookout who had been promoted to participating in kidnappings and murder. He also mentioned the assassinated radio reporter and soon-to-be killed police chief. His descriptions included details on how the Gulf enforcers executed people and burned their bodies.
Vasconcelos said the authors of the video were AFI agents working for Valdez, who is linked with the Sinaloa Cartel.
Sinaloa is waging a war with the Gulf Cartel for control of drug trafficking routes in the United States. The battle has been blamed for more than 100 deaths in and around Nuevo Laredo as the cartels try to control a key shipping route into the United States.
Mexican authorities said they received a copy of the video in September. A month later, the Kitsap Sun, a Bremerton, Wash., newspaper received a copy. There was no return address on the envelope, and only the first three numbers of the ZIP code were decipherable "782," indicating it might have been mailed from the San Antonio area. The Sun sent the video to the Dallas Morning News, and later to the San Antonio Express-News.
The video, time-stamped May 16, followed a spate of inter-cartel killings in Acapulco.
An investigator familiar with the video said authorities had intelligence at the time that the Gulf Cartel was going to send a group of enforcers to Acapulco with the mission of assassinating Valdez.
What appears to have happened, the investigator said, was that the Sinaloa lookouts spotted the rivals first and had corrupt agents pick them up.
Vasconcelos and the investigator both said the video appears to have been released by the Sinaloa Cartel as a counter-intelligence measure, so the public would put more pressure on federal officials to crack down on the Zetas.
Ramon's mother said she hopes her son's abusers are found, but she had her doubts about the federal efforts.
"When I saw the video on TV, I was filled with sadness because I don't know his fate," his mother said. "I don't know if he is living or dying or was killed along with the others."
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May be tainted? He was supposed to be a cartel hitman. Thats pretty "tainted."
This is the law enforcement/drug cartel/hitman culture which is coming to the USA with the illegal alien invasion.