Mexico Opens Terror Probe, Mexican Deserters Attack Prison

As President Bush prepared to head to Monterrey, Mexico, for the Summit of the Americas conference with Latin American leaders, the Mexican government announced that deserters from its army were involved in a raid on a prison and that the Mexican attorney general’s office was launching its own investigation of possible terrorists in the country.

“Deputy Attorney General Jose Vasconcelos told reporters that the United States, Canada and Interpol told Mexico that officials suspected terrorists might be using Mexican soil to plan an attack, but he refused to say whether that attack was aimed at the United States,” the Associated Press reported January 6.

“We do not have specifics about whether there is going to be an attack against some Mexican or European or South American or U.S. airplane,” said Vasconcelos. “It is just the probability of a terrorist act in flights that are leaving Mexico City.”

The week before Vasconcelos’s announcement two Aeromexico flights from Mexico City to Los Angeles were cancelled, and other flights delayed, because of terrorism concerns.

Meanwhile, a group of dissident elite Mexican military forces was reportedly involved in a military-style raid on a Mexican prison.

“A mass escape engineered by a gang of soldiers-turned-drug-traffickers was designed to free five Gulf Cartel killers,” the Associated Press reported, also on January 6.

“At least 25 men dressed in police-type uniforms overpowered guards at a west Mexican prison Monday and freed 25 inmates,” reported AP.

“Vasconcelos said a band of army deserters was linked to the attack,” AP reported, “but officials were not sure if they had carried out the raid themselves or trained those who did.”

The deserters reportedly belong to a group called the “Zetas.” “The Zetas,” reported AP, “are led by former members of an elite paratroop and intelligence battalion that was posted to the border state of Tamaulipas in the 1990s to fight drug traffickers. In October, Vasconcelos said that about 31 of the estimated 350 members of the Special Air Mobile Force Group posted to Tamaulipas in the 1990s had deserted and joined the drug turf war.”