Sun, Dec 11, 2011 - Page 9 News List

General tells his side of Mexico’s fight against drugs

General Carlos Bibiano Villa Castillo, a great nephew of the revolutionary hero Pancho Villa, came out of retirement to fight the cartels

By Jo Tuckman  /  The Guardian, ACAPULCO, MEXICO

When I got to Torreon, I found that of the 1,100 police officers in the municipal force, 1,000 were involved in crime. They received salaries from the criminals, sold uniforms, rented patrol cars — they did everything.

I started to impose military discipline and 600 quit. They were trying to pressure me to leave, but it did not work.

I recruited better officers and we gave the criminals a fight, in coordination with the state and federal police and army. We slashed crime in Torreon with methods that were a little rough, perhaps, or perhaps not.

The fight over Torreon is between the Zetas cartel and Chapo’s people. Rough methods mean that when I get hold of a criminal, from whichever side, I do not shower him in kisses.

If we get shot at, we shoot back, and bullets make holes whichever direction they come from. I have been in five gun battles and I have survived three attempts on my life, all from the Zetas.

In one ambush, about six vehicles were waiting for me at a gas station on the edge of the city.

The shooting lasted 10 to 15 minutes. They wounded six of my men and three of them were left on the battlefield. The rest got away. I got shrapnel in my ankle that time.

I was ordered to Quintana Roo. The women didn’t want me to leave, and that felt nice, but I obey orders. Torreon has got worse recently, but it isn’t my fault.

The day before I arrived in Cancun on March 23, they left a body with a message that I would be next, but as far as I am concerned, the criminals can fuck themselves.

They killed General Mauro Tello Quinones [on his first day as consultant to Cancun’s mayor in February 2009] because he was too trusting. I don’t expose myself in the same way. I want to be clear that here, in Quintana Roo, everything is beautiful. The vegetation, the heat, the women are all beautiful. El narco is not here and our mission is to make sure they don’t come.

I get threats every day. I get them on my telephone because I give out my personal number in case the emergency number doesn’t work. They say they are going to kill me, that they are going to cut me into pieces, chop off my head and take out my eyes. I say thanks for the warning.

One day, this guy threatened to kill my family. I said that if that ever happened, I would make sure that he was put in jail and I then would look for him there and tear him to pieces. Him and all his descendants.

The human rights activists are wrong. I respect human rights, I respect them to an exaggerated degree. In Quintana Roo, we take courses in human rights all the time and I have a right to work as well.

Can the war be won? The strategy of the president is working well and I believe that we are winning. Remember that the cartels didn’t appear overnight and you can’t get rid of them overnight. People from the army are better at responding. We have strategy.

I am proud of being a relative of Pancho Villa because he was a strategist. He knew all about guerrilla warfare and I like to specialize in urban guerrillas.

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