Justice in Isla Mujeres accumulates blunders

2010-07-17

In the past two months, law enforcement officials in charge of protecting Isla Mujeres population have blatantly demonstrated that some of them are real criminals with a police badge: Police Officers in uniform robbing gasoline, a robber robbed by agents, and mainly, the murder a man in custody in the Island’s prison.

José Andres Avelino Villegas, 42, husband, father of four and employee of the city hall, was arrested for public disturbance and drunkenness on June 14, 2010. He was brought to the small jail at 4:08 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., was allegedly found hanged to death in the preventive incarceration area. His wife was informed of the situation in the following hour.

We spoke with the family of the deceased. They saw the body at the morgue and claimed there were no indications of hanging on the neck…but, the body was covered in bruises. It doesn’t require an advanced medical degree to understand what really happened.

To add insult to injury, when the family asked for explanation, they got a typical Mexican justice scenario. To sum it up, at first he would have used a rope, something that usually doesn’t belong in a prison cell. The explanation then switched to the use of his non-existing paréo and, finally, he would have used his t-shirt to hang himself.

Avelino Villegas never showed any suicidal signs or behavior. It can also be argued that the probabilities of someone killing himself twenty minutes after being brought to prison, for public disturbance and drunkenness, in the end of the afternoon, are pretty slim. Finally, it should be duly noted that he was handcuffed to prison bars, by prison guards, upon his arrival.

The family asks for answers, but the local authorities would rather protect dangerous officers than showing they respect and protect the citizens they were hired to protect. The “suicide” version stay the official version. Although the media reported the family is receiving legal and financial supports, the family is still unable to get answers and clean their name. What they live, and are still living, is a tad too familiar.

Gas price also seems to be inconvenient to the police force. In May, four officers have allegedly robbed gas directly from a tank truck, for the purpose of resell. Two of them were in uniform and are the only one being charged with the crime. Details are available here, here and here.

On July 9, a robber is arrested. He claims officers then robbed him from part of his haul. The Judicial Police confirm this by bringing back the stolen goods given to them by the faulty officers. For the complete story, click: here.

These are only the incidents reported by the local Medias. Some of the stories that can be heard on the subject on the island, can be staggering. Police brutality happens everywhere, what is the most worrying is the frequency and the complicity of the hierarchy, which are notorious in Mexico. Factors like low wages, lack of standard and professional framework are cited to explain this situation. This would remain as an internal problem if it didn’t overflow on tourists and foreigners.

On one side, there’s the cartels, on the other, a Mafiosi police force, and in between, criminals who only waits for tourist to fill their pockets or give into darker activities. Quintana Roo stays the Mexican capital of Rape and his in the lead for assaults, robbery and murders.

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