Mexican drug cartel forces lawyer's video confessions
CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO - Armed men in military uniforms stormed the law offices of Mario Gonzalez 10 days ago and whisked him away in a pickup truck. But the kidnappers were after much more than money.
Gonzalez has since appeared in two Internet videos, sitting handcuffed in a chair, surrounded by five commandos in black masks, as they level automatic weapons at his head. Then the interrogation begins.
"What group do you belong to?" barks an off-camera voice.
"The group called La Linea or the Juarez Cartel," Gonzalez answers on cue.
"What is your job?"
"I am the link to the prosecutor, my sister. . . . "
The 41-year-old lawyer describes to the camera how he and his sister Patricia Gonzalez, the former state attorney general, worked for the Juarez drug cartel and orchestrated some of the state's most sensational political murders.
Patricia Gonzalez denies her brother's charges. He was being tortured, she said.
The videos have circulated widely on social networking sites, drug-war blogs and Twitter. The abductors have promised a third and final installment.
Gonzalez's kidnapping and his forced video "confession," with its similarities to the propaganda produced by terrorists, represent a stark escalation in a drug war that has left 30,000 dead over the past four years. The warring cartels often accuse government officials of corruption but rarely in such al-Qaeda-style videos.
"They did it for revenge, because I would not negotiate with criminals," said Patricia Gonzalez, whose term as attorney general ended Oct. 3. She was seated at the desk where her brother was kidnapped. Two truckloads of heavily armed federal police guarded the entrance outside.
With the country's legal system unable to expose the extent of corruption that allows criminal networks here to flourish, many war-weary Mexicans appear willing to consider the charges made in the videos as possibly true, at least in part.