Some 500 Mexican army troops and Federal Preventative Police took over the Public Security Secretariat of southern Tabasco state March 17, and arrested three high-ranking police commanders. The three officials, summarily fired upon their arrests, are part of a clique known as “La Hermandad” (The Brotherhood) that took control of state police operations during the administration of former Gov. Manuel Andrade (2000-2006). La Hermandad is suspected of ordering the hit on the new Public Security Secretariat (SSPT) director, Gen. Francisco Fernández Solís. Fernández was shot and his chauffeur killed in an ambush in the state capital Villahermosa on March 6. Federal authorities also took control of the state armory and confiscated all the weapons to conduct ballistics tests and determine if any were used in the assault on Gen. Fernández.
The three officials under arrest are René Castillo Méndez, former SSPT deputy secretary, David Sánchez Alejandro, director of the SSPT state police, and Fernando Santiago Rodríguez, SSPT chief of staff. The alleged leader of La Hermandad, Juan Cano Torres, was fired from his post as director of the Special Commission Overseeing Public Services Decentralization. Cano, Fernández’ predecessor as head of the SSPT, is being characterized as a fugitive, and a special PFP intelligence division is searching for him.
Federal authorities are also investigating a March 14 incident in which a decapitated head was tossed into the SSPT patio. La Hermandad is suspected of involvement in this, presumably to protest being forced out of the SSPT leadership posts in the new administration. (El Universal, March 18)