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Why did Mexican federal police shoot two CIA agents?

August 28, 2012

In a strange and still unexplained incident, 12 Mexican federal police opened fire on a U.S. embassy vehicle just south of Mexico City last Friday, wounding two American intelligence agents.

Citing in an unpublished report from the federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR), Mexican newspapers La Jornada and El Informador reported on Tuesday that the two men were working for the CIA. This was confirmed on Wednesday by the New York Times.

When the incident took place the unarmed American pair were traveling in the front two seats of an armored Toyota SUV with diplomatic plates, with a Mexican naval officer who served as liaison and translator in the backseat.

Having turned off the highway from Mexico City to Cuernavaca, they were driving down a dirt road in the mountainous Xalatlaco region toward El Capulin naval base. According to the PGR report, apparently based on testimony from the two Americans, they were involved in a  training program at a firing range in the base.

At around 8 a.m. they were confronted near the town of Tres Marias, Morelos by a group  of heavily armed but un-uniformed federal police in an unmarked Dodge van. Two of the gunmen reportedly approached the Toyota to check from up-close who was inside, before the American driver reversed in an attempt to escape.

Their assailants opened fire on the Toyota and chased it back toward the highway, before more plain-clothes policemen in a Nissan Sentra tried to block the Americans’ path.

Two more civilian vehicles full of plain-clothes officers joined the chase and began shooting at the Toyota as it passed a gas station, while a fifth vehicle was awaiting the Americans when they reached the junction to rejoin the highway.

Here the Toyota became immobilized, with three of its tires shot out. Photos show the car riddled with bullets, especially in the front-side windows.

At this point, both Americans received bullet wounds. One was hit in the leg and the other in the stomach and hand. They only survived because their vehicle was fitted with level-seven armor, the highest available, La Jornada reported.

The aggressors did not stop shooting until three federal police vehicles arrived at the scene. Shouting from within the Toyota, the pair identified themselves as U.S. diplomats and one of the federal officers ordered the un-uniformed agents to lower their weapons.

One of the wounded Americans was lifted into the back of one of the federal police trucks. The Navy officer accompanying the pair had called for help from the nearby base and the plain-clothes police apparently left before Navy personnel arrived to seal off the area.

The 12 policemen allegedly responsible for the attack were later arrested and can now be held for questioning for up to 40 days under Mexican law.

The U.S. embassy issued a short statement on Friday night acknowledging that “two U.S. Government personnel and a Mexican Navy captain were in a U.S diplomatic vehicle driving to a training facility, when they were ambushed by a group of individuals.

“The vehicle attempted to escape, was pursued and sustained heavy damage. They called for assistance from the Mexican armed forces, who responded. The two U.S. wounded personnel were taken from the scene, given medical treatment and are in stable condition.  The Mexican Navy captain sustained no serious injuries.”

The two Americans were named this week by Noticias MVS as Jess Hoods Garner and Stan Dove Boss, retired military officials who now work as private contractors providing training in countries with high levels of violence, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. government has not confirmed their identities, nor whether they were indeed working for the CIA. The silence from both U.S. and Mexican officials regarding the case has been deafening.

A Pentagon spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Crosson, said on Friday that the ambush was “not an event that we’re tracking,” and that the victims were not U.S. military personnel “as far as I know.”

The U.S. State Department said “we have no further information to share at this time,” and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) denied that it was involved in the case.

The Mexican government maintained its silence until Tuesday, when President Felipe Calderon told U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne, “I deeply regret the events of the last few days.” He promised a full and thorough investigation by the PGR, adding that “be it through negligence, complicity or lack of training, these acts cannot be permitted.”

Yet Calderon gave little away and many unanswered questions remain. Given the Toyota’s diplomatic plates, it remains difficult to believe that this was a case of mistaken identity. What motivation then, did five federal police units have for opening fire on an American vehicle? Did they specifically target the two Americans and not their Mexican accomplice, who remained unharmed?

There are already serious concerns over the reliability of Mexico’s federal police in the war on drugs. Last week, the government announced it had replaced 348 federal officers at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport, in light of the shooting of three officers by their coworkers in the food court on June 25. Both groups of officers are suspected of involvement in trafficking drugs through the terminal.

Another big question is why has the U.S. government refused to say who the two Americans are or what they were doing in Mexico?

The New York Times revealed the presence of CIA agents at Mexican military bases in August 2011, while the same newspaper reported on Wednesday that the two CIA men in this case were “sent as part of a multiagency effort to bolster Mexican efforts to fight drug traffickers.”

U.S. agencies have shared intelligence and provided training for their Mexican counterparts in recent years, while President Calderon has even permitted the presence of unmanned U.S. drones over Mexican territory.

Emails from a Mexican diplomat and a U.S. law enforcement agent published by WikiLeaks last week even suggested that U.S. special forces are involved in secret joint operations on Mexican soil. If true, this would provoke outrage in Mexico over the violation of its national sovereignty.

“It’s time to speak clearly and for us to know what institutions are intervening in what specific way in our country in regard to security,’ said Senator Iris Vianey Mendoza of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in reaction to the latest revelations on Tuesday.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2012 14:53

    None of this was covered on the mainstream news here in the U.S. I can tell you that. They ran I think a couple brief stories on this in the Guardian and the Christian Science Monitor. But its been such a censored topic here in the U.S. I dont doubt tentions between Mexico gov. and US. officials are still raw with all the Fast and Furious crap still playing out. Its a shame the U.S. continues to lie and cover up truths from the average American citizens. But thank god for the internet. It may be the only way to get to some sort of factual accounts. THose kids that run Anonymous arent stupid.

  2. September 3, 2012 15:52

    Today, in REFORMA newpaper, it results that Mexican federal police who shoot U. S. C.I.A. Agents, “were searching Kidnappers”That’s really revealing

  3. September 3, 2012 15:53

    Yeah no one picked up on the WikiLeaks story about U.S. soldiers operating in Mexico either. You would think this stuff would be newsworthy.

Trackbacks

  1. Update on CIA shooting in Mexico « The Tequila Files

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