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Mexican police scandal as Americans shot dead


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Mexican police scandal as Americans shot dead

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MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) – Authorities are investigating a possible police connection to the killing of three United States citizens visiting their father in Mexico who were found shot to death along with a Mexican friend more than two weeks after going missing.

Parents of the three siblings, whose bodies were identified Thursday, have said witnesses reported they were seized by men dressed in police gear calling themselves “Hercules”, a tactical security unit in the violent border city of Matamoros heavily racked by cartel infighting.

Nine of the unit’s 40 officers are being questioned, Tamaulipas state Attorney General Ismael Quintanilla Acosta said.

It would be the third recent case of alleged abuse and killings by Mexican security forces and the first to involve Americans.

The country already is engulfed in the case of 43 teachers college students missing in southern Guerrero state at the hands of a mayor and police working with a drug cartel. Fifty-six people are under arrest, including dozens of police officers.

In June, soldiers killed 22 suspected gang members in Mexico state, then altered the scene and intimidated witnesses to hide the fact that most of the dead were executed after they surrendered, a National Commission on Human Rights report said last week. Three soldiers face murder charges.

“We will apply the full force of the law and zero tolerance,” Tamaulipas Governor Egidio Torre Cantu said, lamenting the death of the three Americans and a Mexican citizen, even though their identities had yet to be confirmed by DNA.

Presidential spokesman Eduardo Sanchez declined comment when asked about the newest case. The U.S. Embassy said it was aware of the reports but had no information to share “due to privacy considerations”.

The father of the three Americans, Pedro Alvarado, identified his children from photographs of the bodies showing tattoos, Quintanilla told Radio Formula. Clothing found with the bodies also matched that of Erica Alvarado Rivera, 26, and brothers, Alex, 22, and Jose Angel, 21, who disappeared October 13 along with Jose Guadalupe Castaneda Benitez, Erica Alvarado’s 32-year-old boyfriend.

Each was shot in the head and the bodies were burned, most likely from lying in the hot sun for so long, Quintanilla said.

Tamaulipas authorities said it could take 24 to 48 hours for DNA tests to confirm that the bodies were those of the Alvarado siblings, who were last seen in El Control, a small town near the Texas border west of Matamoros, about to return home to Progreso, Texas.

“They were good kids,” said an aunt, Nohemi Gonzalez. “I don’t know why they did that to them.”

The three siblings shared their mother’s modest brick home on a quiet street in Progreso less than three miles from the border. Erica, who has four children between the ages of three and nine, had been scheduled to begin studying to become a nursing assistant next month.

Brothers Jose Angel and Alex had been scheduled to make their annual pilgrimage to Missouri as migrant farm workers more than a week ago, Gonzalez said. When they weren’t on the road, they divided their time between their mother’s house in Texas and their father’s Mexico.

 

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