Photo: Lt. Col. Silvio Isidro de Jesus Hernandez Soto was detained
Retired Mexican army Lt. Col. Silvio Isidro de Jesus Hernandez Soto has been detained for questioning, becoming the fourth high-ranking retired or active-duty military officer to be taken into custody in recent days.
Personnel from the Military Prosecutor’s Office arrested Hernandez Soto Friday pursuant to a warrant issued May 7 by the federal Attorney General’s Office, the Defense Secretariat said.
It added that Hernandez Soto had been released from active duty on Nov. 30, 2002, at his own request and under honorable conditions.
The secretariat did not indicate the cause of this latest detention, but it said it brought a close to a series of four arrest orders issued by the AG’s office for military personnel.
Retired Gen. Ricardo Escorcia Vargas was arrested Thursday just hours after a judged ordered two military brass - retired Gen. Tomas Angeles Dauahare and Brig. Gen. Roberto Dawe Gonzalez - to be held under a measure known as “arraigo” (preventative detention) for 40 days to allow investigators more time to probe their possible ties to drug cartels.
“Arraigo” is a controversial instrument under which Mexican authorities can hold people linked to serious crimes for up to 80 days without formal charges.
Angeles Dauahare and Dawe Gonzalez were arrested Tuesday and questioned by the AG’s office as part of an investigation that dates back to 2010.
Angeles Dauahare was appointed deputy defense secretary in December 2006 by newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon, who gave Mexico’s armed forces the leading role in battling drug traffickers.
Once touted as a potential future defense chief, Angeles Dauahare was abruptly replaced as deputy secretary in 2008 - with no official explanation - and retired from the army later that year.
Until his arrest this week, Dawe Gonzalez commanded an elite unit assigned to the 20th Military Zone, headquartered in the western state of Colima.
Angeles Dauahare is suspected of having accepted bribes in exchange for providing protection to the Beltran Leyva drug cartel.
His attorney, Alejandro Ortega, said his client denied the accusations made by two protected witnesses and exercised his right not to provide further statements.
Calderon’s strategy of militarizing the struggle with the cartels has been accompanied by an explosion of violence and the drug war death toll stands at more than 50,000 as the rightist president approaches the end of his six-year term.