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19 in Mexican army held in deaths of 5

June 05, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

MEXICO CITY — Three Mexican army officers and 16 soldiers were ordered detained Monday in connection with the weekend shooting deaths of two women and three children at a military checkpoint in the western state of Sinaloa.

A statement by Mexico's secretary of Defense said the army officers and troops would be confined to military prison in the city of Mazatlan in connection with Saturday's shooting. The victims were in a car with three other people when the driver allegedly disobeyed an order to stop at the checkpoint in Joya de los Martinez, officials said.

Three of the four women in the car were rural schoolteachers headed to a wake. Defense officials said the troops involved were members of the 24th Motorized Infantry Regiment involved in "the permanent campaign against drug trafficking."

The dead included Griselda Galaviz Barraza, 25, and her three children, ages 7, 4 and 2. The Sinaloa state human rights ombudsman has launched an investigation of the case.

President Felipe Calderon has sent the army into several Mexican states to fight drug traffickers. This year, the federal human rights ombudsman sharply criticized Calderon's decision to use troops in the drug war.

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