A police raid on a notorious Mexico City gang on Tuesday has turned into a fiasco: a judge has ordered that 27 of the 32 people arrested must be released.
The federal judge ordered the immediate release of 27 suspected gangsters after ruling on Thursday that their arrests were illegal.
Mexico City Police Chief Omar García Harfuch told a press conference on Tuesday that police and marines had arrested alleged members of the notorious La Unión de Tepito during a raid on four properties in the neighborhood of Morelos. He also said that the security forces seized stolen vehicles, drugs, money and weapons.
But during a hearing Thursday night, Judge Felipe de Jesús Delgadillo Padierna determined that police fabricated evidence against 27 of the people arrested, including five women. The women were also subjected to police violence, the judge said.
“The police conduct was not clean,” Delgadillo said, adding that prosecutors have constantly presented people before the court against whom evidence has been fabricated.
The judge said the police report about the arrests of the alleged criminals didn’t add up and was unsigned.
The report stated that the 27 people were arrested on the street but the defendants claimed they were detained on a property where they were celebrating the birthday of the one of the alleged gang members.
“It’s implausible that these 27 people were within eight meters of a police car, drugs and money but didn’t run,” Delgadillo said.
He also said that it was implausible that just one police officer had searched the 27 people as the police report indicated.
The five alleged criminals who remain in custody could face charges of drug possession and trafficking, money laundering and possession of restricted weapons. The judge set a period of six days for authorities to bring formal charges against them.
Delgadillo ordered Chief García to investigate the officers involved in the raid for the alleged falsification of the police report and the violence against the women.
The police department said in a statement it will investigate the entire operation.
The department will conduct an internal investigation “in which every action carried out by the police will be reviewed . . . In the case that poor conduct [is detected] appropriate sanctions will be applied,” the statement said.
García today blamed the federal Attorney General’s Office for poorly prepared investigative files, an accusation that was repeated by President López Obrador at his morning press conference.
In a television interview earlier, García described the release of the 27 people as “very surprising.”
He said the decision to carry out Tuesday’s raid was based on a solid investigation and supported by two search warrants.
Evidence seized during the operation – including large quantities of drugs and more than 20 guns – is indicative of criminal activity and demonstrates that the investigation was sound, the police chief said.
“We will review what the judge said. If there was an error or police abuse of any kind it will be investigated.”
“. . . [The release of the suspects] is very surprising for us for the reasons I’m talking about, what was found, the prior investigation, the collusion of police . . .” he said.
“What the judge said today can’t be discredited, we need to review what he said but what I can assure you is that we’re going to continue with these operations as much as they are necessary.”