Authorities in Mexico have arrested a policeman accused of collaborating with a Mexico City gang believed responsible for the murder of 12 young people snatched from a bar, in a case that has drawn into question the government's definition of "organized crime."
According to Mexican authorities, 15 suspects have now been arrested in connection with the case of the "Tepito 12" -- a reference to the home neighborhood of many of the victims taken from "Heaven" bar in May, whose bodies were recovered from a clandestine grave outside the city limits in August.
One suspect is local police officer Edgar Ernesto Gutierrez Vera, who worked in the Zona Rosa district where the bar is located and allegedly colluded with Javier Joel Rodriguez Fuentes, alias "El Javi," one of the leaders of the gang believed responsible for the murders, reported Milenio. Gutierrez apparently received money from the La Union gang in exchange for information about security operations in the area, and helped bury the Heaven victims' bodies in neighboring Tlamanalco.
One gang member arrested for the case recently told authorities the gang murdered the youths immediately after taking them from the bar, decapitating at least one victim with a hacksaw on the orders of Rodriguez, who remains at large, reported Proceso.
InSight Crime Analysis
The Tepito 12 case has shaken residents of Mexico City, a place perceived by many to have largely escaped the drug violence wracking other parts of the country.
In keeping with this perception, the Mexican government has repeatedly refused to classify the Heaven murders as the actions of "organized crime." According to one gang member arrested shortly after the bodies were discovered, the killings were revenge for the murder of a local drug dealer days earlier.
As InSight Crime has reported, the nation's capital is not the "oasis" it is made out to be. While the capital district maintains a relatively low homicide rate compared to other states, it has long been home to local micro-trafficking gangs, and the Familia Michoacana and other groups have operated on the city's outskirts.
Regardless of the motive for the killings, the case draws into question the government's limited definition of what constitutes organized crime when it comes to the issue of security in the capital. In addition to overseeing local drug distribution, street gangs often work with larger criminal groups, and pose a complex security challenge for the state.