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Viewing cable 08MONTERREY182, DRUG WAR BRINGS COMPLAINTS OF ARBITRARY DETENTION; MEXICAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MONTERREY182 2008-04-10 21:09 2011-02-10 12:12 UNCLASSIFIED Consulate Monterrey
Appears in these articles:
http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/02/10/index.php?section=politica&article=006n1pol
VZCZCXRO9176
PP RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHMC #0182/01 1012144
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 102144Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL MONTERREY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2835
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 3794
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEABND/DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMIN HQ WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHMC/AMCONSUL MONTERREY 8277
149452
2008-04-10 21:44:00
08MONTERREY182
Consulate Monterrey
UNCLASSIFIED

VZCZCXRO9176
PP RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHMC #0182/01 1012144
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 102144Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL MONTERREY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2835
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 3794
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEABND/DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMIN HQ WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHMC/AMCONSUL MONTERREY 8277

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MONTERREY 000182 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
PASS TO NORTHCOM 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM SNAR PGOV MX
SUBJECT: DRUG WAR BRINGS COMPLAINTS OF ARBITRARY DETENTION; MEXICAN 
MILITARY NOT INVOLVED 
 
MONTERREY 00000182  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
1.  (SBU) Summary:  The number of complaints of human rights 
abuses in Nuevo Leon increased substantially in 2007 according 
to the state human rights agency and a local NGO, and the 
majority of these complaints stem from alleged arbitrary 
detention.  The alleged abuses appear to be perpetrated by state 
and local police, not the Mexican military pursuing the drug 
cartels.  The State Commission has started a police training 
program promoting greater human rights awareness and respect. 
However, both the Commission and the NGO acknowledged that 
investigations of complaints do not lead to repercussions for 
security or justice officials.  End Summary. 
 
Human Rights Complaints Rise, but State Agency and NGO Differ on 
the Statistics 
 
2.  (U) The Nuevo Leon State Commission on Human Rights (CEDH) 
reports an increase in arbitrary detentions, but claims of 
torture have not increased.   CEDH was founded in 1992 
essentially as a chapter of Mexico's National Human Rights 
Commission, a semi-autonomous body that receives its funding 
from the Mexican government.  According to Paulo Pedro Cuellar 
Martinez, CEDH's Public Relations Director, complaints of 
arbitrary detention increased by about 35% from 2006 to 2007. 
He reported that CEDH currently receives 11-23 complaints per 
month of arbitrary detention, and that the majority of these 
complaints are against state and local police.  He also noted 
that many individuals are presently detained for as long as 30 
days, despite Mexican law which states a person cannot be held 
for more than 48 hours without being charged for a crime.  On 
the other hand, he said that complaints of torture are minimal 
-- about 1 per month -- compared to 1996-97 when the numbers 
were much higher, due to a previous intensification in the "war 
on drugs" at that time. 
 
3.  (SBU) Cuellar, and other CEDH officials, reported that the 
increase in complaints of arbitrary detentions is directly 
related to increased efforts to combat drug trafficking in the 
state.  The current wave of police sweeps taking place in and 
around Monterrey has led to the arbitrary detention of many 
people, mostly adolescent and young adult males.  CEDH officials 
believe this is the only negative consequence thus far of the 
heightened security measures at the state and local level. 
 
4.  (SBU) Cuellar Martinez described CEDH as a moral authority 
and frankly admitted that it "has no teeth" to force the 
authorities to change their police practices.  He also noted 
that CEDH has an image problem because it is perceived by the 
public as a defender of delinquents. 
 
5.  (U) CEDH recently signed an agreement with Nuevo Leon's 
state police to provide police officers with human rights 
training.  They plan to train 10% of all mid-level officers as 
human rights instructors, who will then train the remainder of 
the police force.  The training consists of 3 modules and a 
total of 48 hours of instruction over a 3-month period. 
Monterrey police will be the first to receive the course in 
March and April.  According to the Director of the Institute of 
Human Rights Studies and Development, the educative branch of 
CEDH, human rights training and workshops are part of the 
Institute's regular curriculum.  However, this is the first time 
that security officials will be trained to become human rights 
instructors, in order to create an institutional training basis 
in human rights within the state's public security forces. 
 
6.  (SBU) In contrast, the NGO Citizens in Support of Human 
Rights (CADHAC) found that the number of probable human rights 
abuses trended sharply upwards in 2007, although the most 
serious allegations were made in connection to common crime, not 
operations against drug cartels.  In 2006, CADHAC's 
investigation determined that of 199 cases received, 20% were 
potential human rights abuses.  In the first half of 2007, 
CADHAC received 43 cases and determined that 50% were human 
rights abuses, deriving from claims of arbitrary detention and 
torture.  In the latter half of 2007, CADHAC received 116 cases, 
58% of which appeared to be cases of human rights abuses.  The 
CADHAC figures suggest that from 2006 to 2007, the number of 
probable human rights abuses more than doubled.  (NOTE.  CADHAC 
is a Catholic NGO founded in 1993 that is dedicated to the 
promotion of human rights in Nuevo Leon.  CADHAC employs seven 
full-time staff and some volunteers.  It produces two reports 
per year documenting the number and type of complaints it 
receives and investigates.  It regularly conducts prison visits 
to check on conditions, holds human rights workshops, and 
advocates on behalf of human rights victims.  END NOTE.) 
 
7.  (SBU) The director of CADHAC, Sister Consuelo Morales, 
 
MONTERREY 00000182  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
confirmed that half or more of the probable human rights cases 
they received in 2007 involved arbitrary detention or torture, 
and that the majority of these were committed by state and local 
police.  Sister Morales stated that the detentions are lasting 
up to 80 days now, as opposed to the 30 days reported by CEDH. 
Of the torture cases, the complaints cited water boarding, 
strangulation, and electrical shock.  Poloff reviewed CADHAC 
files and discerned that the allegations of torture were 
connected to cases of common crime, such as robbery, but did not 
include any complaints of torture in drug cartel cases.  In 
addition, in the latter half of 2007, CADHAC documented 26 cases 
of probable human rights abuses, 25% of which included 
complaints of torture or about 6-7 cases in all.  In essence, 
for the six month period, there was an average of about one 
torture complaint per month, which tracks with CEDH's 
statistics. 
 
8.  (SBU) Sister Morales maintained that public authorities had 
proven unresponsive to complaints of human rights abuses.  She 
noted that CEDH's hands are tied by the Attorney General's 
Office (PGR).  She recounted an incident in 2006 in which the 
state attorney general publicly accused CADHAC of delaying the 
arrest of an alleged criminal.  CADHAC responded by issuing a 
press release specifying the constitutional laws and judicial 
process the PGR was obligated to follow.  According to Sister 
Morales, the then president of CEDH later called her and thanked 
her for standing up to the attorney general, adding that "the 
PGR has me up against the wall and I can't do anything." 
 
9.  (SBU) Unlike the state agency CEDH, CADHAC perceives that 
the increased security measures are leading to greater and more 
serious human rights abuses.  Sister Morales asserted that the 
police sweeps being conducted are part of a strategy "to sow 
fear" among the public, and that Nuevo Leon may be moving 
towards becoming a police state.  However, the cases documented 
in CADHAC reports do not suggest that police are torturing drug 
suspects.  Rather, torture is rare and involves common 
criminals.  On the other hand, CADHAC also noted that many human 
rights abuses are not reported, because there is little evidence 
that such reports or complaints ever lead to restitution or 
because the victims are afraid of repercussions. 
 
Police Have Process to Investigate Allegations; Effectiveness 
Unclear 
 
10.  (SBU) PolOff later met with Filiberto de la Garza Santos, 
Subsecretary of the Nuevo Leon Police, regarding how complaints 
of human rights abuses are handled by the police.  De la Garza 
reported that Nuevo Leon has a separate department, similar to 
U.S. Internal Affairs, that investigates allegations of human 
rights abuses.  He said they have investigated a number of 
cases, but did not comment on specific cases.  In regards to the 
issue of arbitrary detentions, De la Garza reported that the 
number of complaints that they receive has been rising slowly, 
much slower than the actual number of detentions.  As to the 
results of their investigations and whether any officials have 
been sanctioned on the basis of human rights abuses, De la Garza 
did not report the disciplining or firing of any officer. 
However, he noted that sometimes both the ministerial police and 
internal affairs investigate the same case and come to different 
conclusions. 
 
11.  (U) In one recent case, state police arbitrarily detained 
hundreds of people related to an attempted drug assassination. 
Following the attempted execution of a police sergeant in Nuevo 
Leon's State Security apparatus, nearly 400 people were 
detained.  According to CADHAC, it received many complaints 
following the sweep from family members reporting that their 
relative was picked up while eating or waiting to catch a bus in 
the vicinity of the sweep with no evidence suggesting he/she was 
engaged in any suspicious criminal activity that would warrant 
detention.  Nearly all of those detained were let go after a few 
days and were charged about USD $48 (the standard fee the police 
department applies for release regardless of whether a charge 
was filed or not). 
 
State and Local Police Focus on Gangs, Not Drug Cartels 
 
12.  (U) Most recent police sweeps have focused on cracking down 
on gangs, rather than drug cartel members.  That has led to more 
negative media coverage and complaints from the public.  In 
response, Aldo Fasci, Nuevo Leon's Security Secretary, recently 
stated that state security is taking preventative measures to 
reduce the potential for an increase in gang-related crimes. 
There are over 1500 known gangs in Nuevo Leon, and the fear is 
that they will become increasingly involved in drug trafficking. 
 
MONTERREY 00000182  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
 Fasci added that, should there be such an increase, he did not 
want the public to be able to say that the police failed to take 
any action to prevent it.  Interestingly, one recent press 
article regarding a police sweep that included the detention of 
numerous minors also noted that the sweep was in response to 
complaints from residents of drunkenness and disorderly behavior 
among youths in the neighborhood. 
 
Mexican Military Not Involved 
 
13.  (SBU) Despite an increased military presence in Nuevo Leon, 
neither the CEDH nor CADHAC reported an increase in complaints 
against the military.  The military has had a presence in Nuevo 
Leon for over a year, since Calderon sent 2,500 soldiers to 
Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas in February 2007 to combat drug 
trafficking in the region.  Instead the complaints are directed 
against the state and local police. 
 
14.  (SBU) Comment: It is clear from CEDH's and CADHAC's reports 
that, at the very least, the number of arbitrary detentions is 
increasing in Nuevo Leon.  It would also appear that judicial 
and security officials are acting with impunity.  Although the 
police department has a process in place to investigate 
complaints of human rights abuses, it is unclear whether their 
investigations ever result in the disciplining of an officer. 
As for the recent wave of police sweeps, these appear to be for 
show, in order to give the impression the police are doing 
something substantive to fight crime, rather than a genuine 
effort to detain suspected members of the drug cartels.  In 
addition, there does not yet seem to be a strong public backlash 
against the sweeps or detentions.  Indeed, in at least one case, 
the police sweep was apparently prompted by residents 
complaining of gang activity in the neighborhood.  We also 
disagree with CADHAC that the state and local governments are 
seeking to sow fear in the war on drugs, as there have been few, 
if any local operations against drug cartels.  End Comment. 
 
15.  (U) This cable was cleared with U.S. Embassy Mexico. 
WILLIAMSON