Luis Hernández Navarro
Under Israeli protection, Tomás Zerón de Lucio, the former director of the Criminal Investigation Agency (AIC) under Enrique Peña Nieto, who tortured and threatened the lives of detainees, tampered with and fabricated false evidence, and was a key figure in the elaboration of the “historical truth” in the case of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa who disappeared in 2014, claims to be politically persecuted.
While the parents of the boys experience the hell of not knowing where their children are, Zeron confesses, in an interview in the magazine 7 Days, supplement of the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronoth, translated into English by the National Security Archive (https://bit.ly/3GNvHb4), that he enjoys his life as a culinary consultant, maintains a healthy lifestyle, enjoys listening to music and walking in nature and in the historical sites of the State that covers its crimes with impunity.
Zerón enjoys a pleasant and secure existence in Tel Aviv. The same cannot be said of the relatives of the forcibly disappeared rural normalistas. Many have died along the way without truth or justice. Cancer devoured Doña Minerva Bello Guerrero, who died in February 2018, without knowing what happened to her son; Everardo Rodríguez Bello, died on the night of September 26, 2014. Don Tomás Ramírez Jiménez died in December 2018 without seeing the murderers of his son, Julio César Ramírez, killed on the night of Iguala, behind bars. In August 2021, anguish and diabetes took the life of Don Saúl Bruno García, father of normalista Saúl Bruno Rosario. In September 2021, covid and suffering took the life of Mr. Bernardo Campos Cantor, father of José Ángel Campos Santos. In August 2022, Ezequiel Mora, father of Alexander Mora Venancio, died of a heart attack.
The former head of the AIC is accused by the Mexican justice system of torture, forced disappearance, concealing evidence and embezzlement of 1.102 billion pesos from the former Attorney General’s Office (PGR). He fled Mexico in August 2019, when – according to what he told 7 Days – his bodyguards were removed. First to Canada, and after two weeks, to Israel.
In July 2020, the Mexican government began extradition proceedings, which to date have been unsuccessful. In 2022, Omar Gómez Trejo, special prosecutor for the Ayotzinapa case, traveled to Israel to accelerate the steps for Zerón’s return. However, from the Attorney General’s Office, Gómez Trejo’s work was blown up and he resigned. The Undersecretary of the Interior, Alejandro Encinas, also traveled to Tel Aviv to meet with Zeron. With the help of his friends, the former AIC director recorded the conversation. According to him, in the conversation the official was either naive or desperate.
The fugitive has someone to protect him in the Middle East. During his time as head of the equivalent of the U.S. FBI, he established close relations with Israeli spyware development and sales companies. “The former head of the AIC is a central figure in the purchase of espionage technology such as NSO Group’s Pegasus malware. Zerón was identified in emails leaked by Wikileaks in 2015, where Hacking Team employees pointed him out as the “definitive buyer” (https://bit.ly/3okdls1).
The Forbidden Stories investigation documented how, “his role as a buyer led him to be close to business figures such as Avishay Samuel Neriya, a partner of Uri Emmanuel Ansbacher, a vendor of espionage systems to the PGR, the Secretary of National Defense and the Center for Intelligence and National Security. Ansbacher was key as a distributor of NSO Group technology in Mexico, a close friend of the founder of this company, Shalev Hulio, and indeed a company linked to him (Proyectos y Diseños VME) allowed Pegasus licenses to be updated in 2017.”
According to Zvi Tal, Israel’s ambassador to Mexico, it is false that the delay in Zeron’s extradition is politically motivated. But time passes and the ex- AIC is still on the run. Tel Aviv protects one of the alleged perpetrators of a crime against humanity, for which there is enormous evidence against him.
Evidence of Zerón’s responsibility in torturing, falsifying evidence, and hiding the truth of a state crime is piled up in a multitude of reports. Just one example, among many others: the report by the Office in Mexico of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN-HCHR), presented in March 2018, entitled Double Injustice. There it concludes that there are strong elements of conviction about the commission of torture, arbitrary detentions and other abuses. The UN-DH examined 63 cases of 129 people prosecuted. In 51 cases it found evidence of torture. Thirty-four of these cases are analyzed. Most of the detentions were the work of the Federal Ministerial Police, attached to the Criminal Investigation Agency (then directed by the now famous Zeron), with the support of elements of the Semar (https://bit.ly/3MNcEkU).
Protected by a State that seems determined to ignore the worst barbarities perpetrated by his crony, Zerón says that his stay in Israel is dedicated to reflecting on the meaning of life, to think and to learn. A curious recourse to evade paying for crimes against humanity and the pain he inflicted on hundreds of innocent people in the Ayotzinapa case.
Originally published in La Jornada on April 18th, 2023. https://www.jornada.com.mx/2023/04/18/opinion/018a2pol
English interpretation by Schools for Chiapas.