Facebook Twitter

MEXICO CITY DISBANDS INTELLIGENCE UNIT

SHARE MEXICO CITY DISBANDS INTELLIGENCE UNIT

Mexico City's intelligence police had weathered accusations from ordinary citizens of extortion, kidnapping, torture, even murder - surviving repeated calls for its dismantling.

But the unit could not overcome the ugly, politically charged scandal of the 1984 murder of Manuel Buendia, a front-page columnist and author who specialized in exposing wrongdoing in high places.Mayor Manuel Camacho Solis ordered the intelligence police disbanded Tuesday after three commanders were charged in the tangled assassination plot.

He called their involvement "intolerable."

The three commanders served under the alleged mastermind of the Buendia killing, Jose Antonio Zorrilla Perez, former director of the now-defunct Federal Security Administration.

Zorrilla, whose FBI-like agency was disbanded for corruption in 1985, is accused of ordering Buendia killed to stop the columnist from exposing his links to drug lords.

The commanders - Juventino Prado Hurtado, Sofia Naya Suarez and Raul Perez Carmona - have all said they were tortured into confessing their participation in what was code-named "Operation News."

Corruption and brutality are old, agonizing and acknowledged problems among the low-paid, poorly trained Mexican police. When reputed drug kingpin Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo was arrested earlier this year, the entire local police force in his hometown of Culiacan was rounded up along with him.

But even in a country where some fear cops as much as criminals, Mexico City's intelligence police were regarded as particularly dangerous.

Critics said their main business was extortion.

"This is the fundamental reason they detain people," Rep. Victor Orduna, chairman of the Justice Administration Committee of the capital's City Council, said in a recent interview.

Orduna and Rep. Ramon Sosamontes, chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee, say scores of citizens complained of detention in clandestine jails, torture and extortion.

Human rights organizations and lawyers reported similar complaints.

Some were verbal, others were filed with the city or the courts. All were still pending when Camacho Solis ordered the unit dismantled.

Critics of the police hoped the Buendia murder, a crime that shocked the nation and galvanized a timid press into prodding two successive administrations for justice, would accomplish what the complaints of the people failed to do.