The News
The News
Wednesday 05 of October 2022

Mexico's Top Police Chief Out After Execution Allegations

Commissioner of National Security, Renato Sales Heredia and Chief of the Federal Police speak on Aug. 18, 2016,photo: Cuartoscuro/ Diego Simón Sánchez
Commissioner of National Security, Renato Sales Heredia and Chief of the Federal Police speak on Aug. 18, 2016,photo: Cuartoscuro/ Diego Simón Sánchez
Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong said Monday that President Enrique Peña Nieto decided to remove Enrique Galindo following recent events to allow for a transparent investigation

MEXICO CITY — President Enrique Peña Nieto dismissed Enrique Galindo, head of the federal police force, on Monday, less than two weeks after the country’s human rights commission released a scathing report alleging federal police executed at least 22 suspected drug cartel members during a raid on a ranch in Tanhuato, Michoacán.

Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong said President Peña Nieto decided to remove Enrique Galindo to allow for a transparent investigation.

“In light of the recent events and on instructions of the president, Police Commissioner Enrique Galindo has been removed from his position,” Osorio Chong said. “That is with the objective of facilitating that the corresponding authorities carry out an agile and transparent investigation in full view of citizens.”

Earlier this month, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) announced that its investigation had found that at least 22 people were killed without justification by police during the operation at a ranch in the western state of Michoacán on May 22, 2015. The report alleged police planted guns on some suspects and moved some bodies to bolster the official report that all the deaths occurred during a gunbattle. In all, 42 civilians and one federal police officer were killed.

Galindo and National Security Commissioner Renato Sales had said they accepted the CNDH’s recommendations, but denied that police executed anyone. They said the federal officers used necessary force against a heavily armed band of criminals.

After the incident, federal police had said they encountered a truck and took gunfire from its passengers before being led in a chase to the ranch in Tanhuato, near the border with Jalisco state.

The commission’s report said the government did not produce evidence supporting that account and it said witness statements suggested 41 federal police officers had sneaked onto the ranch as early as 6 a.m. Officers started their assault at least an hour earlier than they maintained in reporting on the incident, the commission said.

According to the commission’s report, after the federal police officer was shot, police called for backup. Fifty-four more officers arrived along with a helicopter.

“I think his position was unsustainable after the CNDH report on Tanhuato,” Mexico City-based security analyst Alejandro Hope said of Galindo. “It was just a matter of time. There were too many controversies surrounding commissioner Galindo.”

The federal police have also been criticized for a June clash in the southern state of Oaxaca in which officers opened fire on protesting teachers and their allies in the town of Nochixtlan. Eight civilians died, seven of them from gunshot wounds. Authorities said the police were fired on first, though others dispute that.

Federal and state forces had moved to clear a highway roadblock by the protesting teachers who responded by hurling fire bombs and rocks at police.

Osorio Chong said Galindo would be replaced by Manelich Castilla Craviotto, who had been in charge of the federal police’s gendarmes force.

Hope said Galindo was being replaced with the officer who was perhaps closest to him. Manelich led federal police in San Luis Potosí while Galindo was the head of state police there.

“It’s not a sea change, not at all,” Hope said.