Category Archives: Organized crime

Death by torture: New Aytozinapa autopsy report


The only body of a student recovered after the brutal brutal assault on students from the 26 September 2014 disappearances [previously] of 44 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, bore marks of extreme torture, according to a new report.

Of the 43 other students abducted that night, the remains of only one have been identified, and that from DNA extracted from a bone fragment found in a plastic garbage bag dumped in a nearby river: Alexander Mora Venancio.

The body of Julio César Mondragón Fontes was found the day after the abductions, allegedly by carried out by drug cartel members in league with local politicians.

Mondragón is survived by a wife and young daughter.

From teleSUR English:

The Argentine forensics team submitted its autopsy conclusions Monday about the only Ayotzinapa student’s body, found in September 2014, finding he was brutally tortured before dying, coinciding with his family’s claims against the government’s allegations.

The conclusions, handed into a local court in Guerrero state, agreed partially with the report issued on the same day by the Mexican Human Rights Commission that 22-year-old Julio Cesar Mondragon had 64 fractures in 40 bones, mostly in his skull, face and spine.

The new autopsy however found more injuries on the body that had not been reported in the first one, and confirmed the student was tortured, saying the “serious” fractures in the skull occurred “around the time of death,” without finding any injury due to firearms.

The Argentine experts also found that the boy died as a result of the traumatic brain injury inflicted by a blunt force weapon, while acknowledging fauna’s teeth marks inflicted after the death. But the Human Rights Commission denied the existence of a blunt force weapon, blaming it all on animals.

Nevertheless, both teams called upon federal authorities to investigate further the case including the torture allegations, just as the family of Mondragon and its legal team have demanded for almost two years, claiming they had evidence the student had been tortured while still alive.

More from CNN:

“Julio César Mondragón Fontes was the victim of physical torture,” said Jose Trinidad Larrieta, the special commissioner in Ayotzinapa at the National Human Rights Commission. “He was cruelly beaten by members of an organized gang and public servants of the Iguala municipality.”

.snip

Argentine forensic experts investigating the case said in February that there is no evidence to support the government’s hypothesis that the bodies of the 43 students were burned in a nearby landfill.

Jesús Murillo Karam, who was the attorney general when the students disappeared, said in November 2014 that the young men were abducted on orders of a local mayor, turned over to a gang that killed them, burned their bodies in a landfill and tossed the remains into a nearby river.

Suspects arrested, but none have been tried

The involvement of Mexican governments at all levels with drug cartels has been a given for decades, with politicians and law enforcement officials profiting handsomely from the endless rivers of cash generated by the hunger of the U.S. market.

So it should come as no surprise that of those arrested in connection with the abduction and murders, not a single suspect has been tried on criminal charges.

There’s more, after the jump. . .

From the Associated Press: Continue reading

Trump or Clinton: To Mexico, they’re all the same


John Ackerman is one of the leading legal lights of Mexico, serving as professor at the Institute for Legal Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico [UNAM] and as editor-in-chief of the Mexican Law Review. He is also a columnist for Proceso magazine, source of some of the finest investigative reporting in North America, and for the La Jornada newspaper.

He is also a relentless critic of the corruption of the government of President President Enrique Peña Nieto.

In a recent essay for the Dallas Morning News, he attacked his government’s role in the investigation of the 26 September 2014 disappearance [previously] of the 43 students, still missing and presumed dead, from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.

The [Inter-American Human Rights Commission] panel has discovered that many of the key witnesses in the case were tortured, key evidence was likely planted on the scene of the crime, and the government’s story about what happened to the students (their bodies were supposedly incinerated at a garbage dump) is scientifically impossible.

Significantly, the panel also has discovered the complicity of federal forces with the disappearances. During the night of Sept. 26, the Federal Police and the Army, which has two large military bases in the vicinity, were constantly tracking the students’ movements in real time and even made themselves physically present on various occasions.

The evidence points to an intentional act of aggression by government forces — local, state and federal — against the group of student dissidents. Just as occurred frequently during the “dirty war” of the 1970s, the government took advantage of the relative isolation of the mountains of Guerrero to eliminate its political opponents. The good news is that this time someone was watching.

In the light of government repression and cover-ups like this one, it should come as no surprise that the public approval ratings for Peña Nieto have reached the lowest point for any Mexican president in recent history. Only 30 percent approve of his performance and only 13 percent believe that Mexico is today “on the right track,” according to a recent independent poll.

Regardless, the U.S. government irresponsibly continues to cover the back of the Peña Nieto administration. In its most recent Human Rights Report, the State Department claims that during 2015 “there were no reports of political prisoners or detainees” and that the Mexican government “generally respected” freedom of speech and the press. Congress also continues to funnel millions of dollars of support to Mexican law enforcement through the Merida Initiative.

Ackerman argues that it may make little difference who is elected president in the United States, since both politicians favor policies that can only bring more harm to his country.

Instead, he calls for a Mexico/U.S.-disconnect, given that the corruption in Mexico is aided, abetted, and even created by U.S. neoliberal politicians and their corporate sponsors.

Similarly, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will only deeply the wounds already inflicted on Mexico by NAFTA.

The TPP contains the same provisions as NAFTA for a establishing a secret tribunal where corporations can sue nation states for policies created to protect their citizens. Currently Mexico is being sued for blocking radioactive waste dumps, a measure that interferes with corporate profit potential.

And those panels work only in one direction: Nations can use them to sue corporations for harming their citizens.

But there are signs of hope.

Ackerman outlines his views in this very important interview from the Keiser Report, and it’s well worth your time.

From RT:

Keiser Report: US, Mexico & walls

Program notes:

In this special episode of the 2016 Summer Solutions series of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy talk to John Ackerman, professor, columnist and the Mexican Law Review’s editor-in-chief, about the economic relationship between Mexico and the United States. Ackerman has a plan to cut off the flow of funds from America to the Mexican government and he also responds to Donald Trump’s wall. Like Trump, however, Ackerman believes Nafta has been devastating… both to the American worker and to the population in Mexico. They conclude with solutions to the consequences of neoliberal capitalism and dodgy trade deals.

Map of the day: The trans-Atlantic slave trade


From Voyages, the Emory University database on that most execrable of human activities:

Captive Africans followed many routes from their homelands to other parts of the world. The map shows the trans-Atlantic movement of these captives in comparative perspective for the centuries since 1500 only. Estimates of the ocean-borne trade are more robust than are those for the trans-Saharan, Red Sea and Persian Gulf routes, but it is thought that for the period from the end of the Roman Empire to 1900 about the same number of captives crossed the Atlantic as left Africa by all other routes combined.

Captive Africans followed many routes from their homelands to other parts of the world. The map shows the trans-Atlantic movement of these captives in comparative per- spective for the centuries since 1500 only. Estimates of the ocean-borne trade are more robust than are those for the trans-Saharan, Red Sea and Persian Gulf routes, but it is thought that for the period from the end of the Roman Empire to 1900 about the same number of captives crossed the Atlantic as left Africa by all other routes combined.

Duterteo declares a violent police state


The new Philippine president who famous lamented he wasn’t first in line for a lethal gang rape and headed death squads suspected of 1,700 killings  announced today that he was following through on his campaign promises to shoot criminals.

From Agence France-Presse:

Philippines’ president-elect Rodrigo Duterte vowed Sunday to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces “shoot-to-kill” orders in a devastating war on crime.

In his first press conference since winning the May 9 elections in a landslide, the tough-talking mayor of southern Davao city warned his campaign threats to kill were not rhetoric.

“What I will do is urge Congress to restore (the) death penalty by hanging,” Duterte, 71, told a press conference in Davao.

He also said he would give security forces “shoot-to-kill” orders against organised criminals or those who violently resisted arrest.

>snip<

He said military sharp shooters would be enlisted in his campaign to kill criminals.

Quote of the day: A plea from the Panama leaker


An excerpt from an extended manifesto by “John Doe,” the source of the Panama Leaks, published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

I have watched as one after another, whistleblowers and activists in the United States and Europe have had their lives destroyed by the circumstances they find themselves in after shining a light on obvious wrongdoing. Edward Snowden is stranded in Moscow, exiled due to the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute him under the Espionage Act. For his revelations about the NSA, he deserves a hero’s welcome and a substantial prize, not banishment. Bradley Birkenfeld was awarded millions for his information concerning Swiss bank UBS—and was still given a prison sentence by the Justice Department. Antoine Deltour is presently on trial for providing journalists with information about how Luxembourg granted secret “sweetheart” tax deals to multi-national corporations, effectively stealing billions in tax revenues from its neighbour countries. And there are plenty more examples.

Legitimate whistleblowers who expose unquestionable wrongdoing, whether insiders or outsiders, deserve immunity from government retribution, full stop. Until governments codify legal protections for whistleblowers into law, enforcement agencies will simply have to depend on their own resources or on-going global media coverage for documents.

In the meantime, I call on the European Commission, the British Parliament, the United States Congress, and all nations to take swift action not only to protect whistleblowers, but to put an end to the global abuse of corporate registers. In the European Union, every member state’s corporate register should be freely accessible, with detailed data plainly available on ultimate beneficial owners. The United Kingdom can be proud of its domestic initiatives thus far, but it still has a vital role to play by ending financial secrecy on its various island territories, which are unquestionably the cornerstone of institutional corruption worldwide. And the United States can clearly no longer trust its fifty states to make sound decisions about their own corporate data. It is long past time for Congress to step in and force transparency by setting standards for disclosure and public access.

And while it’s one thing to extol the virtues of government transparency at summits and in sound bites, it’s quite another to actually implement it. It is an open secret that in the United States, elected representatives spend the majority of their time fundraising. Tax evasion cannot possibly be fixed while elected officials are pleading for money from the very elites who have the strongest incentives to avoid taxes relative to any other segment of the population. These unsavoury political practices have come full circle and they are irreconcilable. Reform of America’s broken campaign finance system cannot wait.

The full, extensive, and growing collection of Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s Panama Leaks stories in English is posted here.

Headline of the day: The body count soars


From teleSUR English:

185,000 Killed in Mexico in 9 Years, 70,000 Under Peña Nieto

Since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December 2012, there have been an average of 22,000 deaths per year in Mexico, meaning by April 2016, the total number of homicides in the country will surpass an estimated 70,000.

Chart of the day: Post-legalization pot price plunge


From the Washington Post, pot prices plunge once the criminal element is removed and both cultivation and sales become legal:

BLOG Pot