Friday, December 1, 2023

Feds recall 24 bodyguards protecting fugitive investigator’s family

The federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) has withdrawn 24 bodyguards assigned to protect the family of a former federal official who has been on the run since last December.

The FGR recalled the security detail that was protecting Tomás Zerón, former head of the now-defunct Criminal Investigation Agency (AIC) who is wanted on charges related to the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero in 2014, and his family.

Zerón, who faces charges of torture, forced disappearance and obstruction of justice in connection with the case of the students from the Ayotzinapa rural teachers college, is in Israel, Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said in late September.

The FGR also recalled four armored vehicles that were used by the security detail. But Zerón, who is also accused of stealing more than 1 billion pesos from the budget of the PGR, the FGR’s predecessor, is attempting to have his family’s protection reinstated.

A lawyer for the former official filed a legal challenge against the withdrawal of the security detail. The challenge was presented to a criminal court judge but she said she didn’t have the authority to make a decision on the matter because it’s not criminal in nature. She referred it to an administrative court.

Zerón was previously successful in having his full security detail reinstated after the FGR reduced its size last year. In January 2019, the Attorney General’s Office cut the number of agents protecting his family from 24 to 15 and its fleet of armored vehicles from four to three.

But Zerón successfully challenged the reduction on the grounds that the previous government committed to provide a security detail of 24 bodyguards for a five-year period until September 2021.

In addition to the Ayotzinapa case, the former AIC chief headed up investigations against several drug cartels, for which their members could possibly seek revenge.

According to Gertz Manero, Zerón fled to Canada last year after the FGR discovered his alleged embezzlement of PGR resources.

He said September 26 that after a warrant for his arrest was obtained in Mexico, the FGR lodged an application for his extradition from Canada.

“But he immediately fled to Israel, a country which has been asked for its complete support. … Its authorities know very well what human rights violations mean and the responsibilities that executioners and torturers [must face],” Gertz Manero said.

The attorney general said that Zerón must face justice and reveal why he did what he did.

The United Nations concluded in a 2018 report that 34 people were tortured in connection with the investigation into the disappearance of the students. Numerous suspects have been released from prison because they were found to have been tortured during police questioning.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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