Surveillance camera video captured what appears to be the the extrajudicial execution of a presumed pipeline thief by a soldier during the May 3 clash in Quecholac, Puebla.
The video, allegedly posted on social media by the pipeline thieves themselves, shows soldiers removing three individuals from a BMW truck. One of the truck’s occupants, apparently wounded, is dragged out and left on the ground for several minutes before a soldier approaches and fires a single shot to the man’s head.
The shooting took place during confrontations between security forces and armed civilians in the community of Palmarito, located in the Red Triangle region, notorious for the high incidence of theft from petroleum pipelines.
Six civilians and four soldiers died in the incident.
Military officials said if an execution did take place it was carried out on the soldier’s own initiative and not due to orders by a superior, the newspaper Reforma reported today. They said the soldiers were “under stress” after having been under fire for two hours.
“The gunshots were coming from all directions. They were constantly under fire.”
The federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) said it was investigating the shooting depicted by the video while the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) said in a statement that it was collaborating with the PGR investigation.
“The federal public prosecutor’s office must fully clarify whether the video recording corresponds to the referred place and event, along with its authenticity . . . .”
The Military Police and the national and state Human Rights Commissions are also looking into the video.
After the Puebla confrontation, President Enrique Peña Nieto instructed his security cabinet to create a strategy to stop fuel theft.
The cabinet is made up of the secretaries of the Interior, Navy and National Defense and representatives of the federal Attorney General, the president’s office, the National Security Commission and the Center for Investigation and National Security.
This group will work with members of the Coordination Group against Fuel Theft, the secretaries of Energy and Finance and the head of Pemex to strengthen security strategies. It will meet with the governors of Puebla, Guanajuato, Veracruz and Tamaulipas, where the most pipeline thefts are reported, as part of the process.