Dozens of marines have been arrested by Mexican police for allegedly playing a part in forced disappearances in 2014 in the northern city of Nuevo Laredo, the navy has said. The border area has been plagued by cartel drug wars.
The attorney general’s office ordered the detention of the naval personnel who were carrying out “surveillance and deterrence” work in the city, which borders the US state of Texas, the navy said in a short statement on Monday night.
Mexico’s navy has been a key arm of the government’s military-led cartel crackdown in the last 15 years, but it has drawn complaints over alleged human rights abuses and forced disappearances.
Its statement did not go into details, but Nuevo Laredo has been afflicted with drug-related violence and turf wars between cartels for years.
In 2014, the bodies of the city’s former mayor Benjamín Galvan Gomez and an associate were found dumped on a highway near Monterrey after the pair were allegedly kidnapped.
Two years earlier, the heads of 14 men were found in ice coolers in a vehicle near Nuevo Laredo’s city hall, along with a message – apparently from the Sinaloa Cartel – that accused Galvan Gomez of working for a rival gang, Los Zetas.
In another separate incident in 2012, a bomb exploded in a car in the then-mayor’s city hall parking spot, killing one person and injuring others.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has set up a militarized police force called the National Guard, but has also stressed the need for a “hugs, not bullets” approach.
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