Mexican cops tape torture training

On June 30 El Heraldo de Le贸n, a newspaper based in Le贸n in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, released two graphic videotapes showing police agents from Le贸n’s Special Tactical Group (GET) torturing other agents during training sessions. The victims, who had reportedly volunteered, were subjected to a practice known as the tehuacanazo, in which mineral water is forced up the nose, and were threatened with the pocito, in which the subject’s head is submerged in excrement. In one scene, a trainee collapses and throws up; another agent then pushes him into his own vomit.

Le贸n police chief Carlos Tornero Salinas said the tapes were made in April and that the training went on for 160 hours over the course of 12 days. The sessions were conducted by an unidentified person of English nationality, according to Mayor Vicente Guerrero Reynoso, a member of the center-right National Action Party (PAN) of Mexican president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa.

Le贸n public safety secretary Alvar Cabeza de Vaca Apendinni acknowledged on June 30 that GET agents had received the training “because we need to have a special group to respond to certain conditions” due to the spread of organized crime in the city and the state. “It’s extreme training for extreme conditions,” he said. The course was to prepare the agents to deal with “high-stress” situations, police chief Tornero explained on July 1. “This doesn’t imply…that the training was for the application of methods of torture.” He said the tortures were just simulations, and complained that by airing the videos journalists were trying “to discredit the institution [the police department], one way or another.”

“Please, be more ethical, be more responsible,” Mayor Guerrero Reynoso told reporters. “You’re doing a lot of damage to society.” (La Jornada, July 1, 2)

On June 30鈥攖he day of the Guanajuato torture revelations鈥攊n Washington DC, US president George W. Bush signed a supplemental appropriations bill into law providing $162 billion for the US occupation of Iraq and $465 million for the Merida Initiative. This initiative, which critics call “Plan Mexico,” allocates $400 million to Mexico and $65 million to Central American countries to fight drug trafficking. The law provides for 15% of Mexico’s allotment to be held up until the US secretary of state certifies that the Mexican government is showing improvements in various areas, including respect for human rights by the military and police, and the prohibition of torture. (LJ, July 1 from correspondent)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 6

See our last posts on Mexico, the human rights crisis and the narco wars.

  1. Risks Incorporated behind Mexico torture training?
    Citing sources in L茅on, El Univers谩l July 3 named the man of “English origin” in the video as “Jerry Wilson.” In a July 7 report for Narco News, Kristin Bricker identifies the “Wilson” as an employee of Risks Incorporated of Miami. Bricker compares the torture video with a Risks Incorporated promotional video on the company’s website, and concludes they were both filmed at the same site and day. Both show the apparent “Wilson”鈥攊n shades, jeans and black t-shirt鈥攄irecting a bunch of guys in fatigues. Bricker writes:

    Risks Incorporated’s website does not list a “Jerry Wilson” on its “Our Personnel” page. However, the British man known as “Jerry Wilson” may be Risks Incorporated’s “Orlando,” who is listed as the company’s “Chief Specialist Tactical Instructor & Operator.” A January 17, 2006, version of Risks Incorporated’s website archived by the Internet Archive Wayback Machine lists an Andrew Wilson as the company’s “Chief Consultant.”

    Bricker thinks she’s identified another figure in the training as linked to Risks Incorporated:

    Mexican authorities and media identified the second man responsible for the Le贸n torture trainings as Gerardo Arrechea, a Cuban-Mexican martial arts champion and soap opera stunt man who runs the Free Fight Academy with trainings available in Mexico state, Puebla, Morelos, and Chiapas. Free Fight Academy’s website, which was removed from the internet after the torture training video scandal broke, bragged that, amongst other achievements, Arrechea is a third-degree black belt in Doce Pares Eskrima (a martial art focused on fighting with sticks), 1996 Eskrima Filipino WEKAF champion of Mexico, and 1999 May Thai (kickboxing) Association champion of Mexico.

    Risks Incorporated’s website does not list a “Gerardo” on its staff biography page, but it does list a “Jerry,” which is an anglicized nickname for “Gerardo.” Jerry’s Risks Incorporated biography states that he is located in Mexico City where he is the director of a martial arts academy in the Mexico City metropolitan area. It goes on to say that he has a fourth-degree black belt in Doce Pares Eskrima, and, like Arrechea, was the 1996 “Heavyweight Stickfighting Champion of Mexico” and the “1999 Thai Boxing Association of Mexico Heavy Weight Champion.”


    Together, Arrechea and Wilson make up part of the Risks Incorporated team. Risks Incorporated provides its clients “with cutting edge and real world tactical firearms training, counter insurgency / SWAT training, executive protection services, kidnap and ransom services that fulfill their requirements and fit in with their lifestyles.” It offers special courses only available to government agencies. According to Risks Incorporated’s site, “Our specialist tactical police training courses are for agencies that have to deal with the threat of narco terroism [sic], counter insurgency and para-military groups. Risks Inc.’s tactical instructors are predominantly former military personnel with operational experience in counter insurgency and low intensity warfare in both urban and rural environments…. Students can expect to experience sleep deprivation and stress training.”