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Yesterday's blockade in Puebla. Yesterday's blockade in Puebla.

Residents block Mexico City-Puebla to protest operation against fuel thieves

Mayor-elect, brother of suspected gang leader, urges citizens to respond against military

Residents of a town in Puebla blocked the Mexico City-Puebla highway for more than six hours yesterday to protest a federal operation against pipeline fuel theft.

At around 4:00am, navy personnel arrived in Palmarito Tochapan, a community in the municipality of Quecholac, to carry out raids of two properties, one presumably owned by mayor-elect Alejandro Martínez Fuentes.

Martínez took to social media to complain about the operation and to claim that the marines had arrived to “attack the people of Palmarito.”

The town was the scene of two bloody confrontations in May 2017 that left four soldiers and six presumed huachicoleros, or fuel thieves, dead.

An investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) made public this month found that soldiers and state police arbitrarily executed two people and planted weapons on two bodies during the clashes.

The Quecholac mayor-elect used a live video message on Facebook to urge the local population to respond to the navy operation.

A woman approaches Martínez in the video, claiming she was shot by soldiers and displaying a small wound on her leg.

In an earlier Facebook video, the mayor-elect shows security camera footage in which a loud gunshot is heard.

“Authorities are shooting at people going by, the people shooting are soldiers . . . They’re very aggressive . . .” Martínez said.

Other residents reported that security personnel had used gas bombs in the town and broken windows of several homes.

Residents proceeded to shut down the highway in both directions between approximately 6:00am and 12:30pm, burning tires and holding up signs denouncing navy violence during yesterday’s operation.

State government General Secretary Diódoro Carrasco Altamirano said that a group of fuel thieves was living in Palmarito and that they were responsible for inciting and participating in the highway blockade.

Contributing to suspicion surrounding the mayor-elect is that his brother, Antonio Martínez Fuentes, also known as El Toñín, is allegedly a criminal leader in the Red Triangle zone of Puebla, a region notorious for pipeline fuel theft.

El Toñín has also been accused of involvement in kidnapping, extortion and homicides in several parts of the state.

State authorities last year seized two properties owned by Antonio Martínez Fuentes as well as 16 vehicles.

His brother, who denies that he or anyone in his family is involved in criminal activity, is scheduled to take office for the Puebla-based PSI party on October 15.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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