MAC: Mines and Communities

3 environmental inspectors, aide killed in Mexico while investigating mining complaint

Published by MAC on 2010-05-29
Source: Associated Press, EFE

Four people were shot last week near Canadian Genco Resources' La Guitarra Mine in Temascaltepec, 130km from Mexico City.

For the majority of 2009 the mine was closed due to a blockade of the public road leading to the mine by protesters from the nearby community of San Simón de Guerrero.

In 2007, the community of San Francisco Albarrada dennounced the destruction of more than 100 hectares of forests by the mining activities. (See:



3 environmental inspectors, aide killed in Mexico while investigating mining complaint

Associated Press

22 May 2010

MEXICO CITY - Three Mexican environmental inspectors and a local man were shot to death in Central Mexico as they checked on a complaint about pollution from mine tailings, authorities reported Friday.

The inspectors were investigating a complaint about chemical pollutants from a metal mine in the Valle de Bravo area, a wooded area surrounding a lake just west of Mexico City, on Thursday when they were reported missing.

Their bullet-ridden bodies were found on a roadside Friday.

"They lost their lives in the line of duty," the department said in a news release.

Two of the victims worked for the Attorney General's Office for Environmental Protection. Rene Carmona, a spokesman for that office, said the agency had received a complaint from the public about vapours and other pollutants coming from the mine tailings of a metals mine.

He said it was the first killing of an agency inspector in at least 2½ years. Carmona was not able to provide the name or location of the mine cited in the complaint, or the exact nature of its work.

The third victim worked as a local representative of the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas, and the fourth was a local man who was accompanying them on the inspection trip.

It was unclear whether their deaths were related to the inspection. The area is normally a peaceful spot frequented by weekend visitors from Mexico City, but some common crime and drug-related violence has also been reported in the region.

The Environment Department expressed its condolences to the victims' families and said the investigations would be carried out by the State of Mexico.

Several environmental activists have been killed in Mexico, but their killings have often gone unresolved.

Anti-mine activist Mariano Abarca was shot to death on Nov. 27 in southern Chiapas state, a slaying that fellow activists blame on officials of a Canadian-owned mine that operated in the area. The mining company has denied any involvement in his death.

Organized Crime May Be Behind Inspectors’ Killings in Mexico


27 May 2010

MEXICO CITY – Organized crime groups or drug traffickers may be responsible for the killings of two Profepa federal environmental protection agency inspectors and two other people last week in the central state of Mexico, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area, the agency’s head said Monday.

“Without a doubt, the suspicions have to point toward organized crime, drug trafficking has to be considered,” Profepa chief Patricio Patron Laviada told MVS radio.

The bodies of Bernardo Sanchez Venegas, 38, and Juan Gavia Xingu, 41, who worked for Profepa; Valentin Reyes Garcia, 44, a Villa de Allende police officer; and Isidro Luna Alonso, 38, a guide from the rural community of Manzano, were found in a ditch in Temazcaltepec, a city in Mexico state, on Friday night.

The four men “were going to do inspections in the area” around the La Guitarra mine when they were attacked by unidentified individuals, Patron said.

The inspectors found chemicals used by drug traffickers to process drugs and were killed by an organized crime group, Mexican media reported.

The inspection team left on its mission on Thursday and was reported missing a day later, leading to a search in Cerro de Don Luis, a community in the city of Temascaltepec.

The Profepa inspectors, the police officer and the guide were tortured and shot to death, prosecutors said.

The nude bodies of the four men were left partially buried in the ditch.

The men’s deaths could be linked to something that happened at the mine, but that does not appear to be the reason they were killed, Patron said.

“Probably, after going through the forests in the area, going on the roads and trails on the way to the mine, they found something, they encountered somebody and the unfortunate ending came,” Patron said.

The mining company had requested permits a month ago “not to operate, but to fill in shafts” in the area, something that residents had asked it to do, the Profepa chief said.

It is not known what the inspectors found or saw in the area where the killings occurred, Patron said.

Prosecutors from Mexico state are handling the case, but federal Attorney General’s Office agents, Federal Police and state police are participating in the investigation.

“Let’s hope we get to the bottom of this and clear up the case,” Patron.

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