Slowly but surely contradictions begin to surface regarding the slaughter five days ago of 42 people at the El Sol ranch in Tanhuato, Michoacan, at the hands of federal police.
One official said security forces were responding to a private-property trespassing complaint, while another assures they were after the leader of the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel. The contradictions add to the evidence and testimonies that this incident is yet another massacre by Mexico’s security forces.
Other questions are surfacing too, such as why all were killed and no one was injured, although police are claiming they arrested three people. If the people that were slaughtered were Jalisco New Generation cartel members, why were there only 36 firearms, but 45 people? Why, if police claim they were shot at first, did only one officer died and none were injured? Why were no vehicles seized?
And, for the sake of argument, if in fact the leader of the cartel was there, why was he able to flee? Why did he not alert the rest of his crew so that they would at least offer some resistance as to further assist his escape? And lastly, why were the bodies found lying face down – some of them undressed and without shoes – with no guns anywhere near, as can be seen in photographic evidence?
The term "massacre" is most often used to describe what happened in Tlatlaya. Tanhuato's civilian death toll is nearly double Tlatlaya's.— Norma ❏ ♕ (@normarsolis2) May 24, 2015
Elite Mexican police forces, despite having been trained by the FBI in most cases, have proven to be incompetent when it comes to building up a good story to justify the unjustifiable. Such was the case of Apatzingan, in Michoacan, as well as the case of the Tlatlaya executions. And there are plenty more.
Respected Mexican journalist and columnist Raymundo Riva Palacio published an article on Wednesday saying information regarding the Tanhuato case is “scarce and contradictory, because it hides the truth.”
He said that on one hand, national security commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido says the “confrontation” at El Sol was the result of an accusation of alleged trespassing by members of a drug gang. However, he adds, there is no record of that accusation. On the other hand, Riva Palacio says the head of the Federal Police, Enrique Galindo, acted on intelligence gathering: “... the secret (version) is that it was an action to capture Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, 'El Mencho', head of the Jalisco New Generation cartel.”
The police report says that when they arrived at the ranch they were welcomed with bullets, some of which killed the only police officer who died at El Sol. They say AK-47 munitions perforated the policeman's armored jacket.
Another major contradiction is that according to Rubido the 42 victims tested positive for gun powder, however there were only 36 weapons allegedly found at the site, while most of the bodies had no firearm anywhere near them.
Most English-language media still calling #Tanhuato a shootout, gun battle when inconsistencies in official account scream massacre.— ThinkMexican (@ThinkMexican) May 24, 2015
In April of this year, the cartel, according to officials, ambushed federal police in Jalisco, killing 15 officers and injuring five others. This action suggest that the cartel's gunmen are highly trained and well equipped, which contrasts strongly with the supposed gunmen killed in El Sol.
More recently, in May, the cartel's members again proved their abilities by causing chaos across the state of Jalisco and gunning down a military helicopter that was attempting to counter their attacks.
Neighbors of the ranch said new people arrived at the ranch and told them they could no longer have their cattle pasture within the property. The strangers also told them they would not kill them nor take their money, but warned them against meddling. These neighbors, however, failed to say they saw vehicles or convoys of cars, which is typical for drug leaders.
Still, federal officials claim they observed a high number of vehicles at the ranch and deduced that El Mencho was there. Again, no vehicles were seized nor seen driving away from the ranch. Also, El Mencho was not arrested.
Riva Palacio mentions that the investigation began May 1, “After an elite Body of Special Forces of the Army's High Command was defeated by the cartel at Villa Purificacion, during a failed attempt to detain El Mencho.”
Riva Palacio also mentioned that eight soldiers and a federal police officer died in an earlier attempt to detain El Mencho, proving once more that his gunmen are efficient and die-hard.
Federal officials, according to Riva Palacio, also said the operation was meant to be a surprise attack. However, on their way to the ranch they encountered a Toyota pick-up truck with individuals with assault rifles. They thus tried to stop the truck, but it fled and allegedly arrived at El Sol three minutes before them, eliminating the surprise element.
Photos of the scene tell a different story. Undressed people with no arms and only one police officer dead suggest the 42 persons killed were in fact caught by complete surprise.
When the families of the victims went to identify the bodies of their loved ones, they were confronted with corpses beaten beyond recognition. Furthermore, the family members said they knew for sure their loved ones did not belong to any drug gang.
La Opinion news website said that federal authorities “swear” it wasn't an execution or an ambush, “but everything indicates that's what it was.” The site adds that the Tanhuato incident “has notable similarities” with what happened in Tlatlaya in June 30, 2014: “As in that massacre, in which 22 civilians died and only one soldier was injured, it was later known that it was an extrajudicial action.”
La Opinion said, “Now the federal government tells us that this was a clash with alleged criminals in Tanhuato. 42 of them died and only one police was killed. As in Tlatlaya, the very high number of deaths from one side, definitely defies all logic and statistics.”
“The official version is even harder to believe because, according to the national Security commissioner, Monte Alejandro Rubido, all the alleged delinquents were heavily armed and they were the first to open fire,” La Opinion stated, reminding that only 36 weapons were seized.
In the meantime, the controversy has reached the Mexico’s Congress, where ruling-party legislators have immediately sided with the official version, and the right-wing PAN party is calling for an in-depth investigation. The PRD faction in Congress is saying that it was a massacre.
PRD legislator Dolores Padierna said that in Tlatlaya the federal government attempted to hide the truth, and that “today, again, it seems as that in this Tanhuato case the result (of an investigation) will be that it was an execution.”