A federal judge has sentenced 12 Federal Police officers to 34 years in prison for the attempted murder almost seven years ago of two CIA agents as they traveled in an armored diplomatic vehicle on the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway.
The police shot at the vehicle on August 24, 2012 as it passed Tres Marías, a community in Morelos around 50 kilometers south of central Mexico City.
The two United States agents, Stan Dove and Jess Hoods, were wounded in the attack. Fabián Molino, a Mexican marine who was driving the SUV, was unharmed.
The officers involved in the shooting denied that their aim was to kill the people traveling in the vehicle, stating that they opened fire because they believed the car was involved in the kidnapping of a former official of the National Institute of Anthropology and History.
Fourteen police were detained in relation to the incident but two were absolved yesterday of involvement in the crime. However, the acquittal was immediately appealed by the federal Attorney General’s Office.
All 14 officers claimed that during the investigation into the incident, they were interrogated by FBI and DEA agents at the Attorney General’s Office without the presence of a lawyer.
Authorities initially called the shooting an accident but three months later the 14 officers were charged with attempted murder.
Suspicions were raised by the fact that none of the officers was in uniform.
That was revealed after the group’s commanding officer had insisted they were in uniform. He was subsequently charged with providing false information to investigators.
Juan Manuel Pacheco also ordered his men to hide their vehicles, which were unmarked.
There was speculation at the time that the Beltrán Leyva Organization could have planned the attack. Mexican and U.S. officials confirmed that might have been the case, according to an Associated Press report.
A foundation dedicated to the study of organized crime said soon after the incident that it raised questions about the Federal Police.
“The shadowy details of this case raise serious questions over just how reliable they can be in the fight against organized criminal groups,” wrote InSight Crime.
In addition to imposing the custodial sentence, the judge ruled that the 12 convicted officers must pay compensation to the victims of just over 1.8 million pesos (US $94,000).
Source: Milenio (sp)