VERACRUZ, Mexico – A score of former police officials and officers in the Mexican Gulf coast state of Veracruz have been indicted in the “enforced disappearance” of 15 civilians, local authorities said.
The state Attorney General’s Office accuses them of carrying out a state policy to illegally detain, torture and kill private citizens during the administration of former Gov. Javier Duarte, who governed the state from 2010 to 2016 and is currently jailed on money laundering and organized crime charges.
Among those facing indictments are Arturo Bermudez Zurita, the state’s former Public Safety secretary (top police official), who is already behind bars on charges of abuse of authority and influence peddling.
The suspects indicted Thursday include Bermudez’s ex-directors of prisons and special forces, who also are already jailed on other charges.
A total of 16 other suspects have been arrested in recent hours, while one of those indicted is currently a fugitive.
“In Veracruz, there was a rotten government regime that looted the public coffers and committed crimes against humanity,” current Gov. Miguel Angel Yunes Linares said in a televised message.
“Impunity no longer reigns (in Veracruz), and the government is no longer at the service of organized crime,” he added.
Between 2011 and 2016, there were 5,590 denunciations of enforced disappearances (defined as illegal detentions and killings in which state agents participate directly or indirectly in the crime) in Veracruz stemming from the Duarte administration’s war on drugs and turf battles among drug cartels.
Through the end of 2017, authorities moreover had located a total of 343 clandestine graves used by organized crime elements to illegally bury hundreds of bodies.