June 27, 2008

Federal and military personnel arrested 62 people in a party at Tijuana

Mariana Martínez

62 people were detained last weekend in Tijuana in an operation where many drugs, guns and ammo were also found. The unofficial version is that at least two bosses from the Arellano Félix Cártel (AFO) where among those arrested, and autorities have not denied the possibility.

Federal agents found Federal and Municipal authority uniforms, more than 5 thousand rounds of ammunition, 19 high caliber weapons and other objects often used by drug traffickers and kidnappers.

The men arrested were among those invited to celebrate a christening party in a social hall called “Little Devil” near downtown. It was around 10pm on Saturday, June 21 when federal, state and military personnel busted in and arrested all the men at the reunion.

Allegedly, it was an anonymous tip that lead federal and military personnel to the party, where 62 men were arrested, including the father of the child who was christened earlier that day.

Authorities even rounded up the musicians who were hired to play at the party, and have publicly identified 59 of those arrested. According to the report, published by the State Police, at least two of the detainees identified as Antonio Rodríguez and Adolfo de la Paz Ortega are American citizens from San Diego.

General Sergio Aponte Polito, said in a press conference that he could not confirm the identities of those detained, but admitted there is a founded suspicion that one of them is one of the most ruthless criminals in Tijuana, head of a criminal cell belonging to the AFO.

The suspicion is that Filiberto Parra Ramos, aka “La Perra” (literally “The Bitch”) is amongst those arrested. He is well known for drug trafficking but also for kidnapping activities in the city.

According to information given by army personnel, the operation also resulted in the seizure of 19 weapons, including 13 assault riffles and six revolvers; 76 cartages and 5,050 rounds of ammunition. Near a pound of methamphetamine known as “ice” was also found, along with cell phones, radios, scales, bullet proof vests with official insignias, helmets similar to the ones worn by various agencies, and even uniforms from the Federal Police.

Two cars were seized as well, one bulletproof Chevrolet Silverado and a blue Ford Explorer, both of them had California license plates; 2XAT175 and 4MGH771 respectively.

Amongst those detained are four Tijuana cops, some of which had already taken and passed the so called “trust-tests” designed to clean up the police forces around the state.

Following information given by the detainees, there was a second bust in a Private Security office of the company “Seguridad Gámez,” where two men were arrested and two weapons were seized.

The arrested were 60 year old, José Rodríguez Gámez and 28 year old, Jorge Venegas Osuna. Police also found fake uniforms and two-way-radios and took two other cars into custody as evidence.

General Aponte Polito said publicly that civilian authorities should be extreamly careful about confirming the identities and criminal records of the 62 deteinees, and determine if the weapons seized have been used in any crimes.

On Monday, after the weekend detentions, dozens of the detainee’s family members protested outside government offices, claiming their family members are not linked with organized crime.

The family members claimed authorities have denied them access and information about their loved ones. Some even went to the Human Rights commission to file a claim, because according to them, 5 of those detained were simply musicians hired to play at the party.

Some of the detainees have been taken to Mexico City for further interrogation and confirmation about their identity.

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