Conversations between Mexico and the United States Signal Changes on Cooperation

Photos: Cuartoscuro and AFP

03/18/21 (written by scortez) – On March 1, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, nicknamed AMLO, met virtually with U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss cooperation on several key issues. Among them was immigration, which along with drug trafficking, AMLO had also discussed the day prior to with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. These conversations highlight a greater move by both administrations to cooperate on such pressing issues. 

A Gradual Shift Away From Trump-Era Policies

The bilateral meeting represents a shift in cooperation between the two countries around the issue of immigration. The Biden Administration has already made several key changes in the United States’ approach to immigration since taking office in January 2021. For example, after the meeting between AMLO and President Biden, the United States committed $4 billion in aid to development projects in Central America to quell the overwhelming migration flow that is impacting both countries. In February, the Biden Administration also ended the Trump-era policy of “Remain in Mexico” and restored the asylum system process that had existed for decades. At the U.S. border asylum seekers are now beginning to be processed and admitted into the country after waiting in Mexico. Previously, human rights groups had criticized the “Remain in Mexico” as subjecting asylum seekers to further brutality as they waited for entrance into the United States. The Biden Administration is also supporting a bill that will grant temporary legal status to 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the United States. The proposal would provide a pathway to citizenship to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as well as other temporary programs. As well as, restoring and expanding programs for refugee and asylum seekers that the Trump Administration effectively tried to prevent from entering. 

On the other hand, as reported by the New York Times, the Biden Administration has kept other Trump policies that empower the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents to rapidly expel new arrivals at the borders. Additionally, the U.S. Congress weighed in when it drafted a letter urging the Biden Administration to take on a bilateral agenda that focused on the protection of migrants, citizen security, and human rights. The letter reintroduces the conditions that asylum seekers hope to escape abhorrent conditions only to face new difficulties awaiting the status of their application. Recently, Human Rights Watch released a report chronicling the experience of asylum seekers left abandoned in Mexico who have become victims of extortion and kidnappings by Mexican authorities and criminal groups. The HRW report states that under the Remain in Mexico policy, there have been 1,100 reported cases of murder, rape, kidnapping, torture, and assault of asylum seekers while waiting at the border. Elected officials and advocacy groups like Human Rights Watch continue to put pressure on the Biden Administration to improve the conditions for migrants along the Southern Border.

Officials Reexamine Cooperation on Narcotrafficking

Most recently, officials from both countries discussed key aspects of their cooperation on narcotrafficking. Mexico has already enacted changes to the cooperation with the United States on counternarcotics by revoking the diplomatic immunity of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents after it was discovered that they were using shared intelligence to arrest Ex-Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos without alerting Mexican officials. This event was seen by both sides as hampering their cooperation efforts on the ever urgent issue. 

As Bloomberg reports, the senior director of the Western Hemisphere on the National Security Council, Juan González, commented in early March on a call between officials regarding the tactics used to combat organized crime groups. González noted that in recent years, the tactics employed have not produced the results that both sides were seeking. He urged for new tactics to be adopted González did not specify which tactics in question, but he did add that aspects of the bilateral Merida Initiative do not adequately address other issues, like money laundering, cracking down on the production and distribution of precursor chemicals, and China’s role in fentanyl through Mexico. What more, Mexican officials have been pushing to include tactics to quell arms trafficking from the United States, which has played an important role in fueling the unprecedented levels of violence in Mexico. 

In 2020, the United Nations released a report that showed the unprecedented number of arms being trafficked from the United States to Mexico. According to the report, at the U.S.-Mexico border, traffickers pushed through small arms in fewer quantities, which account for 60 to 70 percent of all arms seized in 2016-17. This is in contrast to the worldwide flow of arms trafficking which was at a higher number of quantities in that same year. It is suspected that this form of “ant-trafficking” is a method to avoid seizures at the border. Under the current initiative, there is no coordination to counter this method of trafficking across the border into Mexico. To read more on the U.N.’s report, click here

These conversations mark a shift in direction from previous years for bilateral cooperation on the most urgent issues facing the two countries. AMLO and Biden have both agreed that the overwhelming number of migrants at the border needs to be controlled. While the conversations have yet to materialize into tangible bilateral agreements, they foreshadow a different direction the two countries will take on mitigating migration and narcotrafficking. 


“Global Study on Firearms Trafficking in 2020.” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2020. 

“Like I’m Drowning.” Human Rights Watch. January 6,2021. 

Shear, Michael D. “Biden to Announce Broad Plan to Reverse Trump Immigration Plan.” New York Times. February 18, 2021. 

Spagat, Elliot. “US unwinds Trump policy making asylum-seekers wait in Mexico.” Associated Press. February 19, 2021. 

Stevenson, Mark. “Biden tries to reset relationship with Mexican president.”Washington Post. March 1, 2021. 

Haldenwang, Max De. “U.S. Tells Mexico Drug War’s Failure Requires New Strategy.” Bloomberg. March 3, 2021. 

“Congresistas de EU piden a Blinken trabajar con México atención a migrantes.” Animal Político. March 4, 2021. 

Kanno-Youngs, Zolan. “Biden Seeks Help on Border From Mexican President.” New York Times. March 4, 2021. 

“Migrantes solicitantes de asilo en EU son abandonados en México y sufren violaciones de sus derechos.” Animal Político. March 5, 2021. 

Prosecutorial Reform in Mexico: Assessing the Progress of the National Prosecutor’s Office

Source: Gobierno de México

03/16/21 (written by tmcginnis) – Two years after the creation of the National Prosecutor’s Office (Fiscalía General de la República, FGR), what is the status of prosecutorial reform in Mexico?


In 2014, Mexico passed constitutional reforms to create a new and improved National Prosecutor’s Office (FGR), emphasizing autonomy from the executive branch. The reforms highlighted the need to replace the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) with a new body to combat issues of inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Formalized on January 18, 2019, in what a Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) report described as “an accelerated process without civil society participation or a true assessment of the candidates,” Mexican Congress, specifically the Senate, chose Alejandro Gertz Manero to assume the role of the first national prosecutor, a position he will hold for nine years. Therefore, given that this new institution is still in its infancy, it remains critically important to evaluate the progress that has been made over the last two years.

Source: México Evalúa, ENVIPE.

Broader demand for an autonomous National Prosecutor’s Office (FGR) can be understood through some rather notable figures. For example, according to INEGI (The National Institute of Statistics and Geography) data cited in a 2019 report by México Evalúa, one of Mexico’s premier think tanks, 93.2% of crimes went unreported or uninvestigated (cifra negra) in 2017 —  that is to say, just over nine out of ten crimes that occurred in the country were not investigated by law enforcement institutions (see figure on the right). The creation of the FGR constitutes one of the most difficult challenges for the transformation of Mexico’s criminal justice system since the 2008 constitutional law reforms on security and justice. The recent prosecutorial reforms attempt to ensure[1]  that the first national prosecutor, working in tandem with special prosecutors for investigating electoral crimes, human rights violations, corruption cases, etc., function independently of the president and his inner circle, and possess the necessary experiences and capabilities to thoroughly investigate the aforementioned offenses. Correspondingly, given these aims, there have been points of both progress and concern.


Initial Perceived Progress

Though recent consensus indicates that the FGR has not achieved its full potential, the “implementing law” of the FGR encouraged a sense of hope and initial perceived progress among Mexican citizens longing for robust accountability mechanisms and oversight, particularly civil oversight. The requirements included the presentation of a Criminal Prosecution Plan (Plan de Persecución Penal). This document outlines the types of cases the FGR will prioritize during investigations, prosecutions, litigation stages, etc., and recognizes the FGR’s various temporal goals. According to a 2020 WOLA report, the plan should essentially “allow observers to analyze whether or not the FGR’s investigative priorities are based on objective data and criminal analysis.”

The implementing law also discusses the creation of a Citizen Council for the FGR. The Citizen Council is a civilian-oriented body charged with offering insights and recommendations regarding the FGR’s performance. Though these judgments are non-binding, the national prosecutor must at least respond to them in some capacity, emphasizing the role of civil society and generating a mechanism of accountability for the national prosecutor. According to the implementing law, members of the Council must be identified within 30 business days after the appointment of the national prosecutor. As stated before, Gertz was appointed on January 18, marking a deadline of March 1, 2019. However, as of August 2020, the Senate still has not indicated its preferences for the five members who will comprise this important body.

Other structural and functional changes that initially sparked hope for progress include specialized prosecutors’ offices, which are meant to increase efficiency. The law additionally states that the nomination process for special prosecutors should be transparent, merit-based, and inclusive of civilian participation. Other requirements include a new investigative framework based on criminal patterns and trends instead of isolated cases; “mixed units” as an acknowledgment of the complexity of various crimes; and the authority of the FGR to assert jurisdiction over certain state-level investigations if ineffectiveness is observed.

Current Concerns

Source: El País

Gertz’s Performance

Though a principal goal of the transition to the FGR remains grounded in generating a sense of autonomy from the executive branch, the choice of Alejandro Gertz Manero as the country’s first national prosecutor appears somewhat contradictory, as noted by Americas Quarterly. Gertz served as President Andres Manuel López Obrador’s security advisor throughout his presidential campaign, setting a dangerous precedent for the young institution’s future. Furthermore, over the past 18 months, National Prosecutor Gertz has struggled to realize the most essential components of his mandate. He has illegally appointed special prosecutors, limited opportunities for citizen participation, and announced certain reform efforts that some view as “inherently incompatible” with the spirit of Mexico’s oral adversarial criminal justice system. According to El Economista, Gertz appears distant, failing to meet with civil society organizations and selectively privileging high-profile cases. Furthermore, as detailed by Animal Político, NGOs, such as the Foundation for Justice and the Democratic State of Mexico (FJEDD), which participates in the #FiscalíaQueSirve (author’s translation: “Prosecutor’s Office that Serves”) collective, warn that Gertz’s Criminal Prosecution Plan fails to comply with legal procedures.

WOLA reports that Gertz’s Criminal Prosecution Plan presents many concerns and violations with respect to the implementing law. Firstly, proposals have not been supported by objective data and ignore the new investigative model based on greater criminal phenomena and trends, privileging the old and inefficient method of investigating based exclusively on the type of crime. In looking at the factors that influence institutional performance, many important elements remain excluded, such as analyzing the factors that hinder victims’ abilities to participate in the investigation of their respective cases. Additionally, crimes that have some of the most detrimental consequences for Mexican society, such as femicide, remain absent from the FGR’s priorities. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, in identifying the FGR’s strengths and weaknesses, the plan describes the implementing law as a weakness. Paradoxically, it is described as “incompatible with the FGR’s fiscal and investigative functions,” even though the implementing law is, itself, the document that legally mandates the institution’s fiscal and investigative responsibilities.

Source: México Evalúa, ENVIPE.

General Concerns

Outside of Gertz’s performance, several other elements generate concern about the FGR’s ability to transform into an effective institution and set important precedents early on. One of the most prominent elements centers around budgetary concerns. According to a México Evalúa analysis, data from 2019 elucidate that fewer resources were allocated for the transition to the FGR than for the maintenance of the operational structures of the PGR. This finding is also mirrored by a more comprehensive 2019 México Evalúa report. As noted by the Mexican think tank, in 2019, the FGR’s budget remained smaller than any other budget the PGR had been presented with since 2008. Furthermore, as stated by WOLA, “while the FGR was allocated a 14.5 percent budget increase in 2020,” adding up to a little over $13 billion pesos, which is still one the lowest budgets since 2011 (see figure on the right). Furthermore, only 0.11% of the budget has been allotted to the transitional body charged with outlining the PGR-FGR transformation in a manner that is in accordance with the implementing law.

Moving forward, it will remain critically important to continue to evaluate the National Prosecutor’s Office’s performance. Its infancy marks a critical juncture in which important precedents can and will be set. Thus, in order to achieve the independent, rights-respecting institution the public hoped for, emphasis should be placed on initiatives, such as increasing civil society participation in the final stages of the Criminal Prosecution Plan, especially considering the absence of the Citizen Council.


Angel, Arturo. “Senado revisa plan anticrimen del fiscal Gertz; ONG advierten que es ilegal.” Animal Político. February 10, 2020.

Indacochea, Úrsula, Maureen Meyer. “The Implementing Law of Mexico`s National Prosecutor’s Office: Progress and Pending Issues.” Washington Office on Latin America and Due Process of Law Foundation. March 2019.

Jaime, Edna, María Novoa, Carlos De la Rosa Xochitiotzi, Chrístel Rosales Vargas, Monserrat López Pérez, Janet Kuri, et al. De PGR a FGR: Lineamientos hacia la Transición. México Evalúa. 2019.

Jaime, Edna, María Novoa, Carlos De la Rosa Xochitiotzi, Crístel Rosales Vargas, Monserrrat López Pérez, Miguel Emilio La Rota Uprimny, Pablo García, et al. “De PGR a FGR: Observatorio de la transición 2019.” México Evalúa. 2019.

Rosales, Chrístel. “La Fiscalía busca un refugio para su ineficiencia.” México Evalúa. March 12, 2020.

Sánchez Mercado, Andrea. “El rumbo de la Fiscalía General está escrito en el Presupuesto.” México Evalúa. December 30, 2020.

Velázquez, Marisol. “ONGs piden a la FGR participar en Plan de Persecución Penal.” El Economista. November 4, 2019.

Washington Office on Latin America. “Where Does Mexico Stand in Its Fight Against Impunity? New Autonomous National Prosecutor’s Office Has Yet to Realize its Potential.” Washington Office on Latin America and Due Process of Law Foundation. August 2020.

Witte, Eric A. “Why AMLO’s Security Plan Is Just More of the Same.” Americas Quarterly. February 7, 2019.

Defining the Candidacy of Félix Salgado Macedonio

Source: El Economista

03/09/21 (written by tmcginnis) – Félix Salgado Macedonio, former senator and now a registered candidate for the governorship of Guerrero for the 2021 state elections, faces multiple allegations of sexual assault, including two accusations of rape. Belonging to the ruling party MORENA (National Regeneration Movement), Reforma reports that Salgado Macedonio has received nearly unwavering support from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) prior to the party withdrawing his name. AMLO believes that it is up to the authorities and “the people” to resolve this matter, without the influence of politiqueros– political hacks and maneuverings. However, as noted by El País, President López Obrador is increasingly alone in that defense. Though MORENA eventually moved to pull Salgado Macedonio’s candidacy around February 27, the party is hardly able to truly impose itself on a candidate who has the support of the president. As a consequence, on March 4, the Electoral Institute of the state of Guerrero reversed the decision of MORENA and made his candidacy official. Thus, given the back and forth nature of defining Salgado Macedonio’s candidacy, it remains critically important to evaluate the mounting pressures from opposition parties, civil society campaigns, and even internal party divisions that led to the aforementioned decisions.

Government Response

According to La Jornada, at one of his traditional morning press conferences held in early February, President López Obrador reiterated his prior position on the matter, stating that the allegations and mounting oppositional pressures against Salgado Macedonio are products of the electoral season. In early January, he expressed that “when there are elections or [political] competition, it’s about discrediting the opponent in one way or another” (author’s translation). Resorting to previously observed strategies, AMLO has blamed the opposition and denounced “political lynchings,” as well as what he perceives as malicious media campaigns. According to the relevant minutes of a February 18 press conference compiled by El Universal, in response to questions regarding the reactions of various feminist groups and sectors that have denounced the candidacy, AMLO responded by arguing that those groups have the right to demonstrate and express themselves, just as the voters in Guerrero who support Salgado Macedonio have their right to elect him as their representative. He continued, defending the decisions made by the polls and the people of Guerrero. “First you have to trust the people, the people are the ones who decide” (author’s translation).

AMLO’s support should come as no surprise when considering possible motivations. For example, the president’s ability to govern comfortably hinges on the June 6 election, given that the entire Chamber of Deputies, 30 of the 32 state congresses, 15 governorates, and thousands of local offices will be renewed. 

However, though AMLO endorses Salgado Macedonio’s candidacy, he faces divisions on the matter within his own party. For example, among the most vocal, Olga Sánchez Cordero, the Secretary of the Interior and the first woman to hold the aforementioned position, stated that the respect for a woman’s right to live a life free of violence remains a critical precondition for political candidacy. Moreover, according to Animal Político, she sustained that political parties remain responsible for evaluating whether prospective candidates are qualified and comply with the established 3 out of 3 (3 de 3) rule regarding gender-based violence: candidates have not been sentenced for 1) familial violence, 2) sexual violence, or 3) non-compliance with the payment of alimony. Approved by the National Electoral Institute (Instituto Nacional Electoral) in late 2020, this initiative is supposed to protect women and ensure that positions of power are not held by abusers and violators. However, as elucidated by the case of Salgado Macedonio, many of the complaints have been ignored or not prioritized in a timely manner.

Additionally, according to El Universal, Senator Germán Martínez asked that Salgado Macedonio resign on his own volition and submit himself for investigation, arguing that this predicament should not fall on the National Regeneration Movement as a whole. “You don’t deserve it [the candidacy], women don’t deserve it, Guerrero doesn’t deserve it” (author’s translation). 

In a significant show of internal party division, El País reports that over 100 deputies from the National Regeneration Movement signed a joint letter addressed to party leadership to withdraw the candidacy of Salgado Macedonio. Subsequently, this letter was ratified by an additional 100 party affiliates and supporters of President López Obrador.

Civil Society Response

Source: El Universal

According to Reforma, many prominent actresses, writers, and activists took to social media to spearhead online campaigns against President López Obrador’s endorsement of Salgado Macedonio. As noted by MSN, tens of thousands of women, either through means of protest or social media, demanded that the president “rompa el pacto” — break the “pacto machista” or sexist pact that permits this level of impunity for male authorities. Activists even transformed the meaning of AMLO’s response — “ya chole” (translated as “enough” or “give me a break”) — which he used when continuously questioned about Salgado Macedonio’s candidacy, into a trending hashtag to express both disgust and dissatisfaction with misogyny, femicide, and indifference toward female voices. 

Source: Mexico News Daily

Why Salgado Macedonio does not have a sentence 

Mario Delgado, the National Regeneration Movement’s formal leader, defends Salgado’s candidacy on the grounds that he has not yet been convicted of any crime and therefore maintains his right to participate in electoral contests. With this in mind, the fact that Salgado Macedonio does not presently have a sentence raises several important points and inquiries about the effectiveness of Mexico’s current criminal justice system. Paola Zavala Saeb, a human rights lawyer and political analyst, makes several significant observations about the aforementioned issue, a few of which will be discussed here. 

Citing findings from a 2019 México Evalúa report, Saeb states that Guerrero represents one of the worst states with respect to confidence in criminal authorities. Furthermore, victims prefer not to report out of fear and Salgado Macedonio’s high-profile status compounds this issue even more. If victims do overcome their fears and proceed with filing a report, Guerrero lacks adequate legal representation. In fact, according to México Evalúa, there is only one legal representative for every 98 victims. Additionally, in Guerrero, only 1.6% of investigations pursued by the public prosecutor’s office lead to prosecution before a judge. Furthermore, nationwide, as detailed by Animal Político, between 2015 and 2018, as little as 5% of cases involving rape and sexual abuse received formal sentences, with only a fifth of complaints officially sent to the courts.

With the aforementioned challenges, it remains to be seen whether the accusations against Salgado Macedonio will be taken seriously and the protests of women heeded with equal weight. 


Angel, Arturo. “En cinco años, solo 5 de cada 100 denuncias por abuso sexual y violación terminaron en sentencia.” Animal Político. February 4, 2021.

Areta, Itxaro. “Sánchez Cordero dice que no violentar a las mujeres es condición necesaria para ser candidato.” Animal Político. February 18, 2021. 

Barragán, Almudena. “Más de 100 diputadas de Morena exigen que se retire la candidatura de Salgado Macedonio tras las acusaciones de violación.” El País. January 12, 2021. 

El Universal. “‘Félix, rompe el pacto’, pide Germán Martínez a Salgado Macedonio.” El Universal. February 18, 2021. 

El Universal. “La mañanera de AMLO, 18 de febrero, minuto a minuto.” El Universal. February 18, 2021. 

Manetto, Francesco. “El ‘caso Salgado Macedonio’ abre un frente en Morena ante las elecciones de junio.” El País. February 21, 2021. 

Martínez, Fabiola and Roberto Garduño. “Pueblo y autoridades deben definir candidatura de Salgado Macedonio: AMLO.” La Jornada. February 17, 2021. 

México Evalúa. “Hallazgos 2019: Seguimiento y evaluación del sistema de justicia penal en México.” México Evalúa. 2020. 

Peterson Farah, Diego. “#YaChole y el pacto.” MSN Noticias. February 20, 2021. 

Raziel, Zedryk. “Candidatura de Salgado divide a Morena y genera sospechas de encubrimiento.” Animal Político. February 17, 2021. 

Reforma Staff. “Las mujeres que acusan a Félix Salgado de violación.” Reforma. February 2021. 

Yucatan Times. “Morena ‘pulls’ Félix Salgado Macedonio’s candidacy after allegations of rape and sexual abuse.” Yucatan Times. February 27, 2021. 

Zavala Saeb, Paola. “7 razones por las que Salgado Macedonio no tiene sentencia.” Animal Político. February 3, 2021

12 Police Officers Arrested for Alleged Role in Migrant Massacre

03/02/21 (written by scortez) – In the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas, 12 police officers were arrested on murder charges for the killing and burning of nearly 20 people. On January 22, the bodies of 19 people were found inside two cars in the municipality of Camargo. The events occurred on the side of a road that is commonly used by migrants attempting to reach the United States. At least 14 of those found in the vehicle were Guatemalan migrants, as well as two Mexican citizens—speculated to be the ‘coyotes’. Three victims remain unidentified because of the severity of their burns. According to the Washington Post, the truck was a part of a large convoy of vehicles transporting migrants from Central America across the U.S-Mexico border. The attorney general of Tamaulipas, Irving Barrios Mojica, charged 12 police officers of the Grúpo de Operaciones Especiales (Special Operations Group),commonly known as GOPES for their involvement in the massacre. The newly-formed GOPES is an elite police unit established to act as a fast-responding armed force to address the rising rates of organized crime and kidnappings in the state. In 2020, the group had been trained by US authorities to be able to deliver an immediate response. 

According to Animal Político, investigators had initially presumed that the events occurred at a different location because of the lack of shell casings at the scene of the crime. Meanwhile, the vehicles holding the bodies were riddled with over 100 bullet impacts, creating suspicion that the casings were removed and that perhaps the police officers tending to the scene were involved. In addition to a tampered crime scene, investigators received statements from police officers that contradicted original police reports. Investigators began to believe that the officers that provided varying reports could have been involved in the massacre and removed the shell casings to avoid being implicated. According to a report in Milenio, officials also examined-with the authorization of a judge-call logs, geolocations, and video surveillance to determine their alleged involvement. The speedy investigation led to the attorney general announcing just a few weeks after the bodies were discovered that GOPES police officers were indeed involved. The 12 officers have been arrested on charges of homicide, falsification of reports, and abuse of power.

Before arresting the officers, authorities had also discovered that the charred truck in which the bodies were found was previously seized by immigration officials for attempting to traffic 66 migrants in the neighboring state of Nuevo León, according to reports by Reuters. The vehicle was released to one of the identified victims that was found in the massacre. According to the Associated Press, the National Immigration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM) announced that eight immigration agents had been terminated for allowing the vehicle to be released. Olga Sánchez Cordero, the Secretary of the Interior of Mexico, confirmed that the agents had been fired, but did not elaborate on the details of their involvement.

GOPES’s History of Violence

GOPES has been previously accused of committing violent crimes in Tamaulipas. The Associated Press reported that prosecutors in 2019 accused the same state police unit, formerly known as the Tamaulipas Center for Analysis, Information and Studies (Centro de Análisis, Información y Estudios de Tamaulipas, CAIET), for allegedly dragging eight people from their home in Nuevo Laredo, forcing them to put on garments to appear as criminals, and executing them. In the same article, Raymundo Ramos, a human rights activist, criticized the handling of previous investigations into this group in which 40 officers were implicated  and only two were charged for their involvement. The group faced no real consequence for their large-scale involvement in the 2019 massacre; rather, they received a name change. Ramos stated that the latest massacre fits into the style of tactics that the group employs—concealing their presence and leaving no witnesses behind. 

The Associated Press article further speculates that the migrant group may have been caught in between a territory dispute between the Northeast cartel, a remnant faction of the Los Zetas, and the Gulf Cartel. GOPES was working for the Northeast cartel when they encountered the small caravan of migrants. In the same article, Oscar Hernández, an anthropologist at Colegio de la Frontera Norte, commented, “It’s not news that some police units get involved in this kind of thing, not justice violence, which is the most visible, but other things like aiding and abetting, and corruption.” A federal legislator went as far as issuing a non-binding resolution in Mexico’s Congress in January to protest the violence and atrocities that the group has been suspected of committing. Nevertheless, the police unit was left intact to patrol the streets of Tamaulipas even after well-documented allegations leveled against them.  

As such, the arrest of the 12 police officers signals a delayed response to injustices that the group has had a history of committing. It took a change of the group’s name and another massacre for the state of Tamaulipas to begin holding the police unit accountable. The 19-person massacre also illuminates the peril that migrants endure in attempting to reach the United States. Without the pursuit of justice, migrants will continue to experience the corrosive impact of corruption that  endangers their safety and security.

A charred vehicle found by the Army with a burned body inside. The truck was discovered on the side of the road commonly used by migrants and traffickers near the U.S.-Mexico border. Source: Archyde.


Hernández, Antonio. “EU entrenó a nuevo equipo policial de operaciones especiales de Tamaulipas.” Milenio. August 8, 2020. 

“Tamaulipas:Hallan calcinados los cuerpos de 19 personas asesinados en el noreste de México” BBC Mundo. January 24, 2021. 

Reuters Staff. “Mexico investigates possible involvement of officials in killings of suspected migrants.” Reuters. February 1, 2021.

“Fiscalía de Tamaulipas reconoce participación de policías estatales en masacre de Camargo: hay 12 detenidos.”Animal Político. February 2, 2021.

Peña, Alfredo. “Dozen state police charged in the massacre of 19 in Mexico.” Associated Press. February 3, 2021.

Sieff, Kevin. “Mexican police charged in massacre of Guatemalan migrants near U.S. border.” Washington Post. February 3, 2021.

López, María. “ Abren proceso a 12 policías de Tamaulipas por asesinato de 19 personas en Camargo.” Milenio. February 8, 2021.

Pena, Alfredo and Mark Stevenson. “History of abuse for Mexican abuse unit in Migrant Massacre.” Associated Press. February 10, 2021.

Ex-governor of Puebla arrested for the 2005 torture of journalist Lydia Cacho

02/09/21 (written by aahrensviquez) – On February 3, 2021, federal prosecutors arrested the former governor of Puebla, Mario Marín Torres, for the torture of journalist Lydia Cacho in Acapulco, Guerrero. The arrest was announced by the current governor of Puebla via Twitter.

Marín had been hiding in Acapulco, in his sister’s home, for eight days. Federal prosecution had been surveilling the house for four days before his arrest.

An Arrest After 15 Years of Impunity

The detention comes 15 years after the torture of Cacho by members of the Puebla police force in Cancún in December 2005. The torture of the journalist is widely regarded as retaliation for the publication of Cacho’s 2005 book, The Demons of Eden: The Power that Protects Child Pornography (Los demonios del Edén, el poder que protege a la pornografía infantil), that exposed a prostitution and child pornography ring that involved prominent politicians and businessmen, including former Governor Marín. 

Marín was implicated in the ordering of the torture when an anonymous source released a recording between the former governor and businessman José Kamel Nacif, one of the other figures implicated in Cacho’s book. In the call, Nacif urged the “gober precioso” (or “precious governor”) to retaliate against Cacho. Cacho filed charges against Marín, Nacif, and other state figures in March 2006.

The lack of accountability for those responsible has been a source of international embarrassment for the Mexican justice system. After no action was taken by the Mexican government in the years following her torture, Cacho turned to The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations (UN). In 2018, the UN Committee issued a ruling that found that Mexico had not fulfilled its obligation to investigate this case and hold those responsible accountable. 

Since the ruling, Mexican federal prosecutors brought the charges against the police commanders that carried out the torture ordered by their superiors. In April 2019, arrest warrants were issued for Marín and Nacif. They both fled, evading arrest. After a brief cancellation of those warrants in November 2020, the warrants were re-issued in December 2020. Marín was considered a fugitive by authorities until his arrest in Acapulco.

Cacho reacted to the arrest on Twitter. She has been working with organizations such as Europol and Interpol to locate Marín and Nacif since the issuance of the initial arrest warrants in 2019.

Prosecutors announced that Marín will be awaiting trial in Quintana Roo. Nacif still remains at large.


Ahrens-Víquez, Ashley. “Arrest warrants issued in 2005 torture case of Lydia Cacho.” Justice in Mexico. December 14, 2020.

“Detienen en Acapulco al exgobernador de Puebla, Mario Marín.” Proceso. February 3, 2021.

Espino, Manuel. “Detienen en Acapulco a Mario Marín, exgobernador de Puebla.” El Universal. February 3, 2021.

Flores Contreras, Ezequiel. “La casa donde detuvieron a Mario Marín en Acapulco es de su hermana, la profesora Alicia Marín.” Proceso. February 3, 2021. 

González, Mario. “Detienen al exgobernador de Puebla Mario Marín, según el actual mandatario poblano.” CNN en Español. February 3, 2021.
“Lydia Cacho y Artículo 19 aplauden detención de Mario Marín.” Proceso. February 3, 2021.