Mexico to charge soldiers for deaths of suspected gang members

Mexico will charge three soldiers in the death of 22 suspected drug gang members who were allegedly executed, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

AFP| Last Updated: Oct 01, 2014, 14:29 PM IST

Mexico City: Mexico will charge three soldiers in the death of 22 suspected drug gang members who were allegedly executed, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

The three are among eight who were arrested over the incident, prosecutor Jesus Murillo Karam said at a press conference.

The killings happened on June 30 when a military patrol in the state of Mexico some 240 kilometers (150 miles) from the capital fought a gun battle with 22 people inside a warehouse.

The defense ministry said then that the soldiers came under fire from the warehouse, triggering a firefight in which 21 men and one woman died. One soldier was wounded, it added. 

Authorities found three women who said they had been kidnapped and 25 rifles in possession of the suspects, the ministry said. Media reports said they belonged to a drug cartel called La Familia and the warehouse served as a lab for making synthetic drugs.

But on September 17, the Latin America edition of the US magazine Esquire reported that one of the women said she had been abducted and that the soldiers had shot first.

She said there was only one fatality initially, and that the other 21 people had surrendered, were interrogated and then executed in cold blood, including her 15 year old daughter.

On September 25, the ministry ordered the arrest of seven soldiers and an officer.

Murillo Karam confirmed at least part of the witness`s account. He said the shootout lasted 10 minutes and afterwards the soldiers entered the warehouse and fired shots "that have no justification whatsoever".

He said homicide charges against the three soldiers will be filed on Wednesday.

More than 80,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006, when then president Felipe Calderon deployed the army to fight drug cartels.