Municipal police were complicit with the Zetas drug cartel in the enforced disappearance of 38 people in Allende, Coahuila, in 2011, according to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).
The commission issued a recommendation to the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) yesterday detailing “serious human rights violations” committed between March 18 and 20 when the Zetas attacked the town, abducted residents and carried out a massacre.
The CNDH stated that the PGR “must initiate an investigation” into the case and prosecute those responsible.
According to official reports, 11 people were killed and a further 17 people were disappeared between March 18 and 20.
However, other sources say that around 300 people were forcibly disappeared and killed during the violent three-day period.
The investigation should include a probe into allegations made by protected witnesses in the United States that federal, state and municipal officials had links with members of the Zetas gang, the CNDH said.
It also called on the PGR to investigate any role of the army in the crimes because, according to two witness statements, “public officials from the Secretariat of National Defense were present during the events that occurred . . . .”
The CNDH also said that Allende municipal police arbitrarily detained 34 people, abducted five minors and gave their “authorization, support or acquiescence” to enable the Zetas to carry out the massacre.
The former mayor of Allende, Sergio Alfonso Lozano Rodríguez, is also suspected of connections with the gang and was arrested in November 2016 on charges that included aggravated kidnapping.
In its recommendation, the commission called on the current governor of Coahuila and mayor of Allende to fully cooperate with the PGR to investigate the “probable responsibility” of state and municipal officials in the events.
It also recommended that they “take necessary measures” to compensate victims’ families and ensure that they can return to the town.
In addition, the CNDH recommendation urged the state Attorney General’s office to identify the victims based on 219 biological samples that were found on the Los Garza ranch where some of the executions allegedly took place.
The massacre and disappearances in Allende are believed to have occurred as part of a settling of scores between then Zetas leader Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales and two other gang members who operated a cocaine smuggling route between Piedras Negras, Coahuila and Eagle Pass, Texas.
Hector Moreno Villanueva and José Luis Garza Gaytan allegedly betrayed the Zetas leader, also known as Z-40, by informing United States drug authorities about the cartel’s activities after they had turned themselves in to U.S. law enforcement.
The pair remain in the United States as protected witnesses.
The betrayal allegedly led Treviño Morales to send gang members to Allende to round up anyone who shared a surname with Moreno and Garza or who had family or employment links to them. Those detained were subsequently disappeared.
The Zetas also bulldozed 40 houses in the town and looted several businesses during the three-day period. According to the CNDH, those actions were also authorized by municipal police.
Treviño Morelos was arrested in Nuevo León in July 2013.