Quick response by the Jalisco attorney general saved the lives of a group of people who were abducted by police in Guadalajara on Friday, claims Governor Enrique Alfaro.
The governor said in an interview that the state police officers involved had intended to kill a group of people they forced into unmarked vehicles near the state Attorney General’s Office. Those abducted were protesting the arbitrary arrests of people protesting against the alleged murder by police of Giovanni López Ramírez.
At least 29 people went missing after they were arrested at protests on Thursday and Friday. Alfaro announced on Twitter Saturday night that they had been released from police custody and that charges against them had been dropped.
He said in an interview that the quick actions of Attorney General Gerardo Octavio Solís on Friday had averted another Ayotzinapa. Alfaro’s claim refers to the 2014 case in which 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College were detained by municipal police in Iguala, Guerrero, and allegedly handed over to a crime gang who killed them.
The governor said that Solís intervened to ensure that there was no repeat of a similar tragedy.
An unknown number of people were forced into unmarked vehicles by police on Friday afternoon. One of the people abducted was an 18-year-old undergraduate student identified only as Fer by the newspaper El Universal.
Fer said that he and his friends were approaching the state Attorney General’s Office when they were warned that police officers in civilian clothes were forcing protesters into unmarked vehicles. He said that when they saw vehicles carrying hooded people wearing bulletproof vests they attempted to run away.
He was about to board a public bus when he was grabbed from behind and violently forced into a vehicle. He said that there were about 30 people in the back of the vehicle and that officers told them that more protesters had been forced into another paddy wagon.
Fer said that police took their cell phones and some other possessions from them and told them that they had been detained for being “troublemakers.”
While the vehicle remained stationary for approximately 20 minutes, the police interrogated the protesters about the identity of the man who set an officer on fire at the Thursday protest against López’s alleged murder, he said.
Fer said that the detained protesters were then ordered out of the vehicle and forced into one line for men and another for women. The men were ordered to walk toward an armored police bus with their heads down, while the women were told to proceed in the same manner toward another police vehicle, he said.
Anyone who straightened up was struck by police, Fer said. He told El Universal that the male protesters traveled in the police bus for at least three hours before they were dumped “one by one in different places.”
He said that he was the last to be thrown out of the vehicle. With no idea where he was, the young man ran for his life. He ran into four other young men who had been in the bus with him and they discovered that they had been dumped on the highway between Guadalajara and Chapala.
The group subsequently caught a bus back to the state capital and Fer returned to his home. El Universal said that his version of events was consistent with those of other protesters who recounted what happened to them on social media.
Two police officers have been arrested in connection with the abduction of the young people protesting the arbitrary arrests and police brutality.
Alfaro apologized for the conduct of the police and said that the officers involved might have links to organized crime.
However, a lawyer for the two arrested officers said that they acted in the way they did because they received orders to do so from above. Oscar Aturo Díaz also said that Salvador Perea and Raúl Gómez are being pressured to admit that they were acting of their own accord when they and other officers abducted the protesters.
Perea’s wife, Cinthia Hernández, claimed that her husband was following orders given by either Attorney General Solís or Governor Alfaro, while Gómez’s wife and children made a similar accusation.
Alfaro rejected any suggestion that he or his attorney general had given such an order.
“I believe that it was an attack against Jalisco; I believe that whoever was behind this … was really looking for lives to be lost,” he said.
“There was not a single … disappearance but that had a lot to do with reacting on time.”