1/29/14 – (by cmolzahn) – The government of Javier Duarte in Veracruz is now acknowledging that state police officers were involved in the kidnapping and murder of a participant in “La Voz de México” (Mexican version of TV contest The Voice) singer Gibrán David Martiz Díaz. This position contradicts Governor Duarte’s initial position, rejecting Martiz’s father’s claims that police officers were responsible for his son’s death. The high-profile case is just the latest in a string of accusations—some from within the Veracruz state security apparatus—that members of the state’s elite police force are engaged in kidnappings, forced disappearances, and torture.
Martiz, 22 years old and with Mexican and Panama citizenships, disappeared on January 7, along with his friend Sergio Martínez, having been reportedly kidnapped by armed men outside Martiz’s apartment in the city of Xalapa, which he had just moved into the day before. Their bodies were found four days later following a supposed confrontation between Veracruz state police officers and armed criminals in the Huatusco municipality. Initial reports from the Veracruz Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado, PGJE) said that weaponry, fake state police uniforms, and drugs were found at the site. Two presumed criminals were reported killed in the confrontation, and were initially blamed for the kidnappings. Gibrán’s father, Efraín, claimed from the beginning that his son had been apprehended by state police officers, and went to the offices of the state’s Public Security Ministry (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública, SSP) for information about his son, but was told that there was none, despite eight witnesses and photographs concurring that Gibrán and his friend were detained by state patrol #201778.
The day following the positive identification of Gibrán’s body, photographs of him posing with high-caliber weapons were circulated anonymously on the El Blog del Narco and Notiinfomex websites. Hours later the same photographs were distributed through email addresses that have been linked with Governor Duarte’s press office. Efraín Martíz said that the photos were for a promotional video for his son’s album in production, “Playboy,” and had been taken from his phone, which would have been in the possession of Veracruz police. On January 13, the day following the Veracruz government’s announcement that the bodies of the singer and his friend were found in a stolen vehicle following a chase and ensuing shootout with presumed criminals, Efraín Martiz publicly blamed state police for his son’s death. Social media erupted the same day under the hashtag #DondeEstáGibrán?, with hundreds taking to Twitter to demand that the case be properly investigated.
In a press conference the same day, Attorney General Amadeo Flores did an about-face, admitting to the participation of seven agents of the state’s Policía Estatal Acreditable, a specialized police force with military training whose agents are supposed to have undergone a rigorous battery of vetting examinations. Flores said that the seven agents were facing charges of breach of official duties, coercion and abuse of authority. He did not, however, clarify what their exact roles in Martiz’s kidnapping were, nor did he release the names of the seven officers, who are currently in custody. He also did not address why just a day earlier state authorities had denied any police involvement in the crimes.
Veracruz has prided itself in the progress it has made compared to other states in developing the police force. Last October, though, an official in the state’s Public Security Ministry (Secretaría de Seguridad Pública, SSP) reported that she had been detained, handcuffed, blindfolded, and then beaten and tortured by officers of the state’s Policía Acreditable. The ten-year veteran of the SSP’s highway patrol, Jacqueline Espejo Moctezuma, said that four masked police officers apprehended her as she left work, forced her into a taxi, and took her to the El Lencero police academy facility, where she was held for four days. She claimed that the officers insisted that she accept charges of marijuana possession, and threatened her and her family if she did not.
Upon returning to SSP offices, she reported what had happened to her, and was immediately transferred to the Panuco municipality to carry out patrols on the orders of Arturo Bermúdez Zurita, head of the Veracruz SSP. For Espejo, the message of the transfer was clear: “They send me to Panuco [the area within her command zone most affected by drug trafficking]. In my ten years as an official I was in the highway sector, but administrative. It’s been almost seven years since I’ve used a gun, they send me there so I don’t return, not with [my] life,” she said. At her press conference, she showed visible signs of physical trauma, and her medical exams revealed a deviated trachea, as well as inflammation of some internal organs. Espejo’s alleged unlawful detention followed one year after similar allegations from Diario AZ reporter Carlos Hernández that he was arrested, detained and beaten by agents of the Policía Estatal Acreditable at the same facility as Espejo. Two days later, he was turned over to federal prosecutors under drug possession charges, but was released 12 hours later due to a lack of evidence.
Zavaleta, Noé. “Acusan a policías de Veracruz de cometer desapariciones forzadas.” Proceso. October 18, 2013.
Ávila, Édgar and Rodrigo Barranco. “Hallan muerto a joven cantante de ‘La Voz.’” El Universal. January 20, 2014.
“Incriminan a agentes estatales en levantón y muerte de Gibrán Martiz.” El Diario. January 21, 2014.
Zavaleta, Noé. “El caso Gibrán, otro escándalo del gobierno veracruzano.” Proceso. January 25, 2014.