Last Friday, a neighbor from the center of Tecamachalco approached the plaza after nine at night. He had heard gunshots from his home. “I was a gossip”, he says by phone, “I live four blocks away.” He was just arriving when several trucks entered the place. “They were ministerials from Puebla,” he explains, referring to agents of the State Prosecutor’s Office. “The ministerials got out of the trucks very aggressively. And they started shouting, ‘Municipal, municipal, they were municipal, they killed them! ”.

The neighbor, who prefers to hide his name and any detail that can identify him, describes a very strange scene, the outcome of a strange persecution between municipal police in Tecamachalco, an hour from the state capital, and agents of the local Prosecutor’s Office. It is not known how it started or why, but it did end up being shot. According to the Puebla prosecutor, Gilberto Higuera, the municipal police chief shot his agents. Three were killed. The governor, Miguel Barbosa, has gone further and has spoken of an execution.

The case ended with the arrest of the police chief, Alejandro Santizo, who years ago had been linked to gangs of fuel thieves. In 2017, when he was running the capital’s police, the state corporation arrested two of his agents for allegedly helping a group of huachicoleros. Santizo, who emerged unscathed from that, had made a name for himself in the Puebla security forces under the wing of Facundo Rosas, head of the state police until 2015. Rosas left his post due to alleged links with huachicoleros.

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The attack and the death of the agents thus illustrates the abandonment of the police corporations in the country, an endemic disease throughout the territory. According to the Police Development Index, produced by the Causa en Común organization, the police forces in Mexico “subsist precariously, they do not develop.” According to the latest installment of the index, from 2018, all the country’s corporations “fail to comply with the law because they have operational elements without current trust control.” In other words, in all the police forces in Mexico there are agents who have not even passed periodic examinations to determine, minimally, if they are suitable for their position.

At the heart of the old red triangle of fuel theft in Puebla, Tecamachalco lived in relative calm since the Army’s irruption in the area at the end of the last six-year term. With just over 80,000 inhabitants, the municipality suffers from common crime problems, such as theft of vehicles or freight transport. Frequent scenes were never seen there in nearby towns, such as clashes between gasoline thieves and authorities, fuel marketing along leaky pipelines, and so on. Although in view of the massacre on Friday, the situation does not seem better than that experienced by the hottest spots in the region during the huachicol fever.

In addition to Santizo, the Prosecutor’s Office has also detained his bodyguard and the rest of the police officers on duty on Friday night, a total of 12. Asked about the accusations against them, a spokeswoman for the agency has indicated that it cannot give information as this is an ongoing investigation. So far, the official version is that Santizo fired, just like his escort. It is not known why the rest of the municipal police are imprisoned.

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The resident of the center of Tecamachalco witnessed the minutes after the massacre, when the recently arrived agents of the Prosecutor’s Office turned to see the municipalities. “It is when things were altered,” he explains, “a municipal was on the corner of the Iglesia de la Asunción. They told him, ‘You’re a municipal, give us your gun!’ And they gun it. He tried to grab his radio, but they took the gun from him and started beating him. “

According to the neighbor’s account, the rest of the municipal agents, who were guarding the scene of the massacre, began to run. Although it did not help them much, because they arrested them all. “Then they arrested Santizo, who was 50 meters from the massacre, at the corner of the Farmacia del Ahorro. They handcuffed him and took him away in a white truck, next to the Municipal Palace. He looked very haughty. He never looked down at them, “he says.

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