Thirty marines were arrested last Friday in connection with the forced disappearance of an unspecified number of people in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, in 2014, the navy said in a statement.
The Ministry of the Navy said Monday that the federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR), acting on arrest warrants, detained the marines, who allegedly carried out the abductions and presumed murders while deployed to the northern border city.
The navy said that it made the marines available to the FGR so it can carry out the appropriate investigations.
It didn’t give any further details about the crimes.
It is the largest arrest of military personnel in connection with the disappearance of civilians in recent years and a heavy blow to the navy, which is generally considered Mexico’s most trustworthy security force.
Tamaulipas is one of Mexico’s most violent states and has one of the highest missing persons rates in the country.
The navy was accused of involvement in the disappearance of at least 57 people in Tamaulipas in the first half of 2018, and the United Nations said in May of that year that there were “strong indications” that federal security forces were responsible for the disappearance of 23 people, including at least five minors, in the state.
Forced disappearances are seldom fully investigated in Mexico and impunity for the crime, as is the case for many other offenses including homicide, is extremely high.
The federal government said last week that more than 85,000 people have disappeared since 2006, the year former president Felipe Calderón launched a military offensive against Mexico’s notorious drug cartels.
Criminal organizations are to blame for most disappearances, but corrupt security force members — including municipal and state police, marines and soldiers — have also been accused or convicted of abductions and murders. For example, the army has long been suspected of involvement in the high-profile case of 43 teaching students who disappeared in Guerrero in 2014.
According to leaked testimony obtained by the newspaper Reforma in January, the military was directly involved in the disappearance of the students.
The FGR said last September that arrest warrants had been issued against soldiers and federal police in connection with the case but has not reported whether those warrants have been executed.
Source: BBC News (en)