Mexico City – Mexican federal police searching for a gang of kidnappers who abducted a government employee noticed an out-of-place bulletproof SUV traveling at high speeds on a rural road, and they shot at the vehicle.
What they didn’t look at was the vehicle’s license plate. Had they, they would have noticed the diplomatic plates on the U.S. vehicle.
An official who asked not to be quoted said Mexican police were looking for suspects who abducted an employee of the government archaeological agency a day earlier in the same area where the Aug. 24 shooting occurred.
The kidnappers later released the employee of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, who was found by police walking on a roadside in the area just south of Mexico City. The U.S. agents, identified by Mexican officials as employees of the CIA, suffered non-life-threatening wounds. They have returned to the United States.
Twelve Mexican federal police have been detained in the case and are being held under a form of house arrest pending possible charges.
The federal Public Safety Department said it has cooperated in the investigation and that 51 officers of the federal police have testified in the case.
"If the use of excessive force, a failure to apply standard protocols or involvement with organized crime is proved, the appropriate punishments will be applied," the department said in a statement. "No illegal act will be tolerated."
The department said that, since the current administration took office in December 2006, a total of 459 federal police officers have been detained for varied offenses, and 50 have been sentenced. It did not detail the criminal charges involved in those cases.
In the same period, about 2,045 officers have failed periodic vetting and anti-drug tests, and 302 of them have been fired. About 600 others are involved in the lengthy internal-affairs procedure, which could lead to people losing their jobs.
The federal police currently has a total force of about 36,000 officers.