Authorities in the northeastern Mexican state of Coahuila announced Feb. 7 that they had recovered at least 500 sets of human remains from mass graves scattered across 11 municipalities—mostly in the north of the state, along the Texas border. Most of the remains were bones, which had largely survived apparent attempts at incineration. Several vats used to dissolve the remains in acid were also found in the graves. No group has been named as responsible for the killings, but Coahuila is a battle-ground in the ongoing war between the Zetas and their rivals in the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels. The Mexican media are calling the finds "narco-graves." The state Prosecutor General's office says it will take at least four months to ascertain the number of victims among the remains, much less identify them. (Latin Times, Feb. 10; Siglo de Torreón, Feb. 8; Pulso, SLP, Feb. 7)
Some 150 followers of the United Front in Defense of Tepoztlán (FUDT) seized control of the town hall and took captive the mayor at the historic village in the central Mexican state of Morelos July 23. The mayor, Francisco Navarrete Conde of the center-left PRD, is being held to demand that the federal Communications and Transport Secretariat (SCT) halt plans to widen La Pera-Tepoztlán highway. The FUDT asserts that some 1,800 comuneros (communal farmers) whose ejidos (collective landholdings) would be impacted by the road expansion have not been consulted. The comuneros, armed with clubs, sucessfully routed municipal riot police guarding the town hall. Speaking to a reporter by phone from his protester-occupied office, Navarrete Conde expressed support for the demands of his captors, charging that the company with the road contract, Tradeco, "is violating the rights of the comuneros." The company apparently has an agreement with the comuneros, but FUDT followers have challenged it as illegitimate, with a case over the matter pending before the Agrarian Tribunals. (La Jornada, July 23)
After more than two months of investigation, on Nov. 9 Mexico's federal Attorney General's Office (PGR) confirmed that it was formally charging 14 federal police agents for an Aug. 24 attack on a US embassy van on a road near the Tres Marías community, south of Mexico City in the state of Morelos. The agents claimed they mistook the van's occupants—two agents of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a Mexican marine—for members of a gang connected to a local kidnapping. The two CIA agents were wounded in the incident.
US officials suspect that organized crime was behind an Aug. 24 attack by Mexican federal police on a US embassy car on a road near the Tres Marías community, south of Mexico City in the state of Morelos, the Associated Press wire service reported on Oct. 2. In the incident, a dozen police agents in several unmarked cars attacked an armored US car with diplomatic license plates in which two agents of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a member of the Mexican Navy were traveling to a Navy installation for a training session—apparently part of the aid the US provides to Mexico's "war on drugs."
In other news, the Mexican government continues to play down an Aug. 24 incident in which Mexican federal police in at least four vehicles shot up a US embassy van carrying two US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents to a Mexican Navy installation; the two agents were wounded and are being treated in the US. On Sept. 17 a Mexican official suggested that the attack was the result of simple confusion. The police agents were looking for a gang that had kidnapped an employee of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in the same area, the official said. They were focused on the unusual presence of an armored van traveling at high speed on a country road, and they didn't notice that the vehicle had diplomatic license plates, according to the official, who said he couldn't be cited by name. (Associated Press, Sept. 17, via Terra Argentina)
The Mexican daily La Jornada reported on Aug. 28 that the two US agents wounded in a shooting incident near Tres Marías in Morelos on Aug. 24 were from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), not the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Citing unidentified "official sources close to the investigation," the newspaper also said the attack was carried out by five vehicles, not four, and that the shooting began after the assailants were able to see the victims close up. The agents were driving a heavily armored US embassy car, a Toyota Land Cruiser, on their way to a Navy training facility, apparently to provide instruction to marines involved in the "war on drugs." According to later reports, the US agents survived only because of the car's armor.
A group of Mexican federal police agents attacked a US embassy car at around 8 am on Aug. 24 in the state of Morelos just of south of Mexico City, near the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway. The police agents shot a number of times at the car, lightly wounding two US officials who were traveling with a member of the Mexican Navy to a nearby Navy training installation. The embassy car had diplomatic license plates, while the federal police were reportedly traveling in four unmarked vehicles.