Mexican police arbitrarily executed nearly two dozen suspected gang members on a ranch last year, the government's National Human Rights Commission said on Thursday, one of the worst abuses by security forces in a decade of grisly drug violence.
In May last year, federal police ambushed suspected members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (JNG) holed up at Rancho El Sol near the small town of Tanhuato in the violent western state of Michoacan and killed 42 men.
Only one policeman died in the fight, in which police backed by a Black Hawk helicopter attacked the cartel, a kill rate way higher than international norms, but not uncommon in Mexico's drug war. Only one injury was reported.
The one-sided toll was one of the highest since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in 2012, pledging to end years violence.
"We established facts that imply grave human rights violations attributable to public servants of the federal police," Raul Gonzalez, the president of the CNDH, told a news conference.
Gonzalez said police lied about their role in the incident, moved 7 bodies and shifted weapons to manipulate the scene. Police tortured two people they arrested, and burned two bodies, Gonzalez added.
The CNDH was unable to clarify how another 15 of the victims were killed, he said.