Mexico: six killed at army roadblocks

On June 1 a group of Mexican soldiers opened fire on an extended family riding in a van in Sinaloa de Leyva municipality, in the northwestern state of Sinaloa. According to the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA), the soldiers fired when the driver of the van, Adan Abel Carrillo Esparza, failed to obey an order to halt at a roadblock. The barrage killed five family members: Griselda Galaviz Barraza, 25; Alicia Esparza Parra, 17; and Joniel, Griselda and Juana Esparza Galaviz, ages seven, four and two, respectively. The driver was wounded, along with Teresa Flores Carrillo Esparza, 16, and Jose Carrillo Esparza, five.

In response to a complaint filed by surviving family members, the government’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) opened an investigation. On June 8 the CNDH reported that it found no evidence that the victims had shot at the soldiers and noted that the military would not allow CNDH investigators to conduct drug tests on the soldiers; SEDENA claimed it would carry out its own investigation. The driver, Adan Abel Carrillo Esparza, told the CNDH that he never saw a roadblock and that he heard the order to stop at the same that the soldiers opened fire. Family members had told the Sinaloa state human rights commission earlier that the soldiers seemed to be drunk. CNDH investigators found five cartridges, 12 cartridge casings and one hypodermic needle at the scene of the shooting.

The soldiers were deployed as part of a high-profile campaign by center-right president Felipe Calderon Hinojosa using the military to fight growing violence by organized crime, especially the drug cartels. Apparently the campaign includes what the CNDH called “surprise searches” of vehicles and persons.

On June 3 soldiers shot Adrian Salazar Fernandez dead at a checkpoint on the Riberena highway in the Gulf Coast state of Tamaulipas. He was riding in a recent-model van without license plates when the driver, Jesus Rogelio Alonso, failed to obey an order to stop, according to the military. The soldiers arrested Rogelio Alonso, who was not injured. (La Jornada, June 4, 9)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 10

See our last posts on Mexico and the narco-militarization.