MONTERREY, Nuevo Leon – The troops Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador deployed to the streets who were eventually rebranded as the National Guard are currently under investigation for extortion and threats targeting street-level dealers in the border state of Nuevo Leon. A three-month probe by Breitbart Texas revealed that federal authorities appear to be replicating the tactics often used by cartels for their own profits.
For three months, Breitbart Texas looked into a citizen complaint documented in court files, videos, and photographs where members of Mexico’s Military Police allegedly carried out illegal raids at the home of a wheelchair-bound man with ties to the street-level distribution of drugs. The soldiers and their vehicles were purportedly captured in surveillance cameras that the victim installed around his home.
Legitimate Raid or Extortion?
Despite formal complaints filed by and on behalf of 49-year-old Roberto Leonel Martinez Gaona, there was an apparent lack of results and a possible coverup in connection with a raid by military police. They reportedly beat Martinez and extorted him on various occasions. Breitbart Texas spoke with members of the Martinez family and obtained access to their police complaints filed 623/2019CODEFOE.
Breitbart Texas also obtained exclusive access to the court case file 0125/2019-UIEAD3 that was started in 2019 when Martinez claimed that in April, a squad of soldiers wearing face masks in state police vehicle FC1510 barged into his home without any warrants. At the home on April 23rd Street in the Industrial neighborhood of Monterrey, the officers repeatedly beat and threatened Martinez in front of his family as they demanded $400,000 Pesos ($23,000 USD). Fearing for his life or being jailed on trumped-up charges, Martinez reportedly agreed to turn over $70,000 Pesos ($4,000 USD).
According to the alleged victims, the troops did not provide any court order or search warrant. The victims also claimed there were no emergencies or exigent circumstances that would have given the troops an excuse to barge into the home.
The Precursor to AMLO’s National Guard
Shortly after taking office, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador assigned squads of military forces to help secure the streets of Nuevo Leon as a test run that eventually became the National Guard. During a meeting in 2019 when he unveiled his “Metropolitan Security Operation,” Lopez Obrador said the intelligence-driven forces would address the rising number of homicides in Nuevo Leon. The announcement was welcomed by Governor Jaime Rodriguez Calderon and his security secretary, Aldo Fasci Zuazua.
The operation called for members of Mexico’s Military Police Fourth Brigade to coordinate with state and municipal officers to confront organized crime and contain the drug war. The presidential plan called for joint groups of soldiers and police who would answer to a military chain of command with “zero corruption.”
“[The Mexican Army] is an institution with experience born from the people, different than the armies in other parts of the world–it is respectful of the civil authority, born from a loyal country,” AMLO said during the ceremony where he assigned the group to its military leader at the time.
At its inception, the group was under the command of General Jose Luis Cruz Aguilar, who oversaw all of the military-police operations at the time. By November 2019, Cruz Aguilar became the head of the National Guard in Nuevo Leon, even though his troops were fingered in a criminal complaint about alleged extortion schemes.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and senior Breitbart management. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tony Aranda from Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project contributed to this report