Mexican authorities charge 30 marines over alleged disappearances

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On Thursday, Mexican authorities charged 30 marines for allegedly participating in a string of violent northern disappearances in the Mexican border city Nuevo Laredo, the Attorney General said.

The charges mark the first high profile move of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office in late 2018 to end impunity and curb violence. His government made unprecedented use of the military for a range of projects from policing to construction.

The prosecutor will have six months to investigate the 30 arrested marines, the Attorney General said.

From February to May 2018 in Mexico, there were a series of forced confrontations that led to various complaints of violent disappearance, linked to elements of the Mexican Navy, said the office in a statement.

The navy had earlier this week incorrectly said the disappearances had taken place in 2014.

Read more The navy, together with the army, has played a key role in the government's military-led crackdown on drug cartels, which began in 2006.

Their deployment has led to frequent complaints of rights abuses by the armed forces, including allegations of up to 40 disappearances from February to May 2018 in Nuevo Laredo, which has long been a hot spot for turf wars between drug cartels.

At the time, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, denounced the crimes as being horrific, including the disappearances of at least five minors and urged a full investigation.

Lopez Obrador has created a organized police force known as the National Guard, formed in part of soldiers to lead the fight against militarized crime.

He has put the military in charge of the ports, civil aviation, COVID-19 vaccinations and infrastructure projects including a new airport to serve Mexico City and part of a tourist railway.

Lopez Obrador also supported the decision to dismiss an investigation into former defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos, whom the United States arrested on charges he had worked with a powerful drug cartel. Read more here

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