UPDATED: As usual, please scroll down.
This is huge.
At 4:00 this afternoon, approximately 275 federal police and army officers under the command of PFP Chief of Staff Ardelio Vargas, assaulted and took possession of the central headquarters building of the Oaxaca State Attorney General. And they are still there. Vargas was assisted by Javier Dovala, commander of the AFI agents involved.
President Felipe Calderón's federal force consisted of 245 PFP (federal police force) officers, along with 18 agents from the AFI (Agencia Federal de Investigación - kind of like our FBI), 3 forensics specialists, 3 agents from the Ministerio Público Federal (they are like a detective/prosecutor combo, there to take preliminary statements from anyone accused of a crime) and led by an unreported number of Mexican Army Personnel.
I realize as well as you that in just a very few days, Felipe Calderón will become yet another victim of the old "But what have you done for me today, asshole" syndrome, but he is definitely off to a rip-roaring start.
The feds hit the State Attorney General's headquarters and took it completely by surprise. They have done the following since entering the building:
- Confiscated all weapons of the Policía Ministerial that they found inside the building
- Begun to comb files looking for outstanding arrest warrants against PM officers
- Begun to comb files for PM arrest warrants never served against "friendlies"
- Begun to test fire the PM's confiscated weapons to run ballistics tests on murder victims
- Taken control and responsibility for all the State Attorney General 's duties under the law
- Review all small arms to assure they are licensed and the carrier has permits to possess and carry.
Nothing, and I repeat, nothing like this has happened in this country for at least 12 years. This might, at first glance, seem to smack of the Carlos Salinas administration, when state governments, labor leaders, reporters and private businessmen were swept up in federal operations. But Salinas was a dirty guy and he did most of that stuff for all the wrong reasons.
Felipe Calderón is clean. And he is not stopping to take names here. It would seem that he has decided, "OK, you sons of bitches. You've been squawking for me to bring the full weight of the law down here to bail you out of you own mess? Well, here we are!"
As of 8:00 pm, the federal forces had kept 3 of the weapons they originally confiscated for reasons not yet entirely clear. They had also arrested 5 MP officers for being in possession of stolen cars.
I'm pumped over this. This is just the signal that Calderón needs to send. No nonsense tolerated, from anybody.
Now I'm sure that this is not now nor will it prove to be all squeaky clean. I was told this morning that at least one very high ranking police official in Oaxaca knew he was on his way out. Whether he knew about the operation in advance is questionable. It seems certain that, if he knew, he wasn't real generous in sharing the info.
UPDATE I: At 9:00, Reforma was reporting that the PFP had in its possession 341 of the 472 weapons licensed to the State Attorney General's office, which would include the Policía Ministerial. They were being transported to the Mexican Army offices in Oaxaca. Under Mexican law, the Army has responsibility for licensing all weapons, including all law enforcement weapons, in Mexico (I had a permit, once. They could be bought.).
Within 5 minutes of entering the building at 4:16 pm, the PFP announced, "We have control of everything and everybody." They herded all of the employees and state police officers outside into the parking lot at the rear of the building and began disarming everyone.
UPDATE II: 11:00 pm - The 3 weapons permanently confiscated were held because the bearers could produce no documents to show they were licensed. In any event, the PGR will "temporarily" keep all of the weapons collected. The forensics experts are test firing every weapon and keeping the cartridges as well to compare the slugs and the cartridges to those dug out of bodies and picked up at murder scenes.
Just how far back and how high up this will go is open to much speculation. I would think, however, that for the next few months Felipe Calderón is not going to get a lot of guff from anybody.
UPDATE III: 12:16 am - The PFP is now saying that of the 5 state policemen arrested, 3 were arrested for driving stolen cars and the other 2 were arrested for carryng prohibited weapons.
The PFP also moved against the Fuerzas Especiales de Alto Rendimiento (Fepar), and the Unidad Ministerial de Intervención Táctica, (UMIT) - both SWAT type state police units.
3 driving stolen cars and 2 had no weapons permits
UPDATE IV: Calderón didn't move fast enough to save this guy. This afternoon, Raúl Marcial, leader of the Movimiento Unificador de Lucha Triqui (MULT), was gunned down in his office in Santiago Juxtlahaca, 300 km from the Oaxaca state capitol. The Triqui are an mountain indigenous people who were here when the Spanish arrived. Maybe he was a little too stingy with the taxi money.
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TAGS: Oaxaca, Mexico, Oaxaca teachers strike, Felipe Calderón, PFP, AFI