Mexico’s Federal Police chief fired after report on extrajudicial killings

A page of Mexico's Human Rights Commission report shows 11 people killed during a Federal Police raid on a ranch were barefoot.

Mexico’s president has fired the country’s Federal Police chief in the wake of new evidence of extrajudicial executions by federal forces. Shannon Young has more.

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Mexico’s Interior Secretary announced Monday that Federal Police Commissioner Enrique Galindo had been replaced effective immediately, and on direct orders from President Enrique Peña Nieto. While not giving concrete details about what caused the dismissal, the Interior Secretary cited the need for a transparent investigation and alluded to “recent events.”

Galindo led Mexico’s federal police force for the last four years. His dismissal comes less than two weeks after the country’s National Human Rights Commission issued an uncharacteristically scathing report on a deadly incident involving alleged criminals and federal police.

In May 2015, 42 civilians and one police officer died on a ranch in Tanhuato, Michoacán in what Galindo said was a confrontation between his agents and members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

But the National Human Rights Commission found federal police statements contradicted key forensic evidence, weapons had been planted and in multiple instances the deaths did not result from a shootout.

Human Rights Commission investigator Ismael Eslava says almost two dozen of the dead showed clear signs of extrajudicial execution.

“Twenty-two of the victims were killed in a disadvantaged position in relation to their aggressors,” Eslava explains. “Thirteen of them had their backs turned to those who killed them.”

According to the commission’s report, at least five were shot at from a helicopter.

The Tanhuato incident is not the only one in which federal police are accused of unnecessary use of deadly force. Earlier in 2015, Federal Police agents carried out a deadly operation against members of an armed citizen self-defense group, also in the state of Michoacán. Sixteen people were killed in what survivors described as an ambush, a massacre and a cover-up.

And in June, at least eight people died when Federal Police used force against protesters and townspeople in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca. Again, evidence contradicts initial federal police statements and authorities say an investigation is ongoing.

Commissioner Enrique Galindo has been replaced by a longtime close associate who – prior to this week – was in charge of the gendarmerie division of the same police agency.

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