Source: The Nation
Washington is providing equipment and training to compromised agencies—at the same time that it’s tracking their close ties to organized crime.
By February 2010, US consulate officials in Monterrey, Mexico, had long connected Héctor Santos Saucedo, then head of Coahuila’s state investigations, to the Zetas. This was at a time when the Zetas—the notorious criminal drug organization formed by soldiers who had defected from an elite army unit—had consolidated control over much of the political and security apparatus in Mexico’s northern region. According to internal US government reports from around that time, Zeta influence was “longstanding and widespread throughout local and state government,” and cartels were operating “with near total impunity in the face of compromised local security forces.” Despite US knowledge that Santos was part of the Zetas’ sphere of influence, he continued to hold central positions in the counter-drug effort; he was named director general of investigations in the State of Coahuila in January 2010 after being dismissed from his post as head of the state investigative unit in Nuevo León. The following year, the town of Allende, Coahuila, became the site of one of the drug war’s worst massacres—one that is just now coming to light after years of cover-up.
Between March 18 and 21, 2011, the Zetas conducted an operation in the town of Allende, kidnapping and executing a reported 300 family members, friends and others associated with three Zetas believed to be informants for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Even though Coahuila state government officials, as well as the federal attorney general’s office, received complaints of the attack as it was being carried out, no security forces intervened to prevent the killings. Neither state nor federal officials investigated the attack afterward, and Coahuila’s governor did not publicly acknowledge the killings until over a year later.