Mexico detains 30 Marines accused of disppearances

Mexico City (AFP) –


Prosecutors in Mexico have arrested 30 Marines in connection with the disappearances of an unspecified number of people in the northern state of Tamaulipas in 2014, the Navy said Monday.

"Thirty naval service members were made available to the Attorney General's Office on April 9 in compliance with arrest warrants... for the alleged crime of forced disappearance of persons," the Navy Secretariat said in a statement.

The statement did not elaborate on the precise date of the disappearances or the number of victims, but it said the arrests were related to investigations into events that occurred in Nuevo Laredo in the state of Tamaulipas, on the border with the United States, in 2014.

The Navy said it decided to hand over the uniformed men "in strict adherence with protocol" so that prosecutors can "carry out the pertinent investigations."

Tamaulipas, long marred by violence linked to drug trafficking, has one of the highest rates of missing persons in the country, especially on roads that lead to the border with the United States.

Most of the disappearances are blamed on drug cartels, but law enforcement officials, especially state and municipal police, have also been charged.

Monday's announcement marked the largest detention of military personnel in connection with enforced disappearances in recent years in Mexico.

The government had announced that arrest warrants were being prepared against the military for the disappearance in 2014 of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa school in the southern state of Guerrero, but it has not officially reported whether those warrants have already been carried out.

Between the end of 2006, when the government launched a military offensive against the drug gangs, and December of last year, Mexico had 80,517 reports of missing persons, according to official figures.

In the same period, some 300,000 people have been killed, with most of the deaths blamed on organized crime groups.