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Mexican police kidnapping caught on video

By Mark Stevenson

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, June 14 2012 6:30 p.m. MDT

In any case, the release of the dramatic images comes less than three weeks before national and state elections in which security is a major issue. Critics accuse President Felipe Calderon of setting off a bloodbath with his strategy against gangs, while his party's presidential candidate, Josefina Vazquez, has suggested her opponents are ready to compromise with the cartels.

Jalisco is governed by Calderon's party. The man who was mayor of Lagos de Moreno when the video was shot is now a rival party's candidate for the state legislature.

Gonzalez said that so far, seven policemen and officials of the municipal police force of Lagos de Moreno have been detained pending charges. And state Attorney General Tomas Coronado said the four men in civilian clothing also have been detained separately in other cases. He declined to say what gang they might belong to.

There are still mysteries surrounding the case, including whether the gunmen thought the victims were members of a rival drug cartel. The victims were from the northern state of Coahuila, where the hyperviolent Zetas cartel has been battling the Sinaloa cartel, allies of the local Jalisco New Generation gang.

Gonzalez said the victims, before checking into the hotel, had been briefly detained by police at the local jail for a minor infraction. They paid a fine and were released. But while in custody, "They said something indiscrete," Gonzalez said. "Apparently they said something like 'We're from Coahuila, and we're part of the mafia.'"

It's not unusual in Mexico for detainees to boast about their connections, hoping to press corrupt police to release them.

This time, however, it backfired.

"Apparently, somebody at the jail heard the comment, and reported it to the real criminals," Gonzalez said.

Coronado told local media the men had claimed to be Zetas.

Gonzalez said it has never been proved the kidnapped men were gang members. They may have just been in Lagos de Moreno collecting the rent on a ranch, and they are being treated simply as victims.

Chabat noted that corruption has reached so deep that in 2010 in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, seven local police officers in the town of Santiago were arrested on allegations they were working for the Zetas drug gang and that they kidnapped and killed the town's Mayor, Edelmiro Cavazos, in retaliation for his attempts to cut corruption.

"There are police officers who kill the mayors they are supposed to protect," Chabat said. But this week's video "is cause for despair," he said. "It gives rise to the feeling that this is not going to be solved in the short term."

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