Pubdate: Sun, 28 Sep 2008
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times
Author: Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Mexico Under Siege


'I Was Hiding It in My Hands and It Made Me Shudder,' Juan Carlos
Castro Galeana Tells an Interrogator in a Videotaped Session About the
Deadly Attack in Mexico. 'I Was Desperate to Get Rid of It.'

MEXICO CITY -- Slumped at an interrogation table, a gang member
accused of participating in an attack that killed eight people at an
Independence Day celebration described calmly how he was eager to get
rid of the grenade he tossed into a crowded plaza.

"I was hiding it in my hands and it made me shudder," Juan Carlos
Castro Galeana told his interrogator. "I was desperate to get rid of

Castro added that he thought the attack, which he said he was ordered
to carry out, was meant to "provoke" the government. He appears in a
video posted Saturday on the website of El Universal newspaper. The
video was obtained from the attorney general's office, the newspaper

Castro is one of three men arrested by Mexican authorities as suspects
in the Sept. 15 assault during a revered national celebration in
Morelia, the hometown of President Felipe Calderon. It was the first
major deliberate attack on civilians in Mexico's raging drug war.

Federal prosecutors earlier announced the arrests of Castro and two
other men, Julio Cesar Mondragon Mendoza and Alfredo Rosas Elicea. All
three confessed to the grenade attack, the attorney general's office

Prosecutors said the three belong to a notorious gang of hit men known
as the Zetas who work for the powerful east-coast drug-running Gulf
cartel. The men were arrested by security forces, acting on an
anonymous tip, in Apatzingan, a drug stronghold in the state of
Michoacan. Morelia is the capital of Michoacan.

More than 100 people, including children, were injured in the attack,
which stunned a nation already reeling from drug violence that has
claimed thousands of lives. The victims have included police officers,
people involved in the drug trade and bystanders. The bloodshed in
Morelia, however, appeared to signal a new level of brutality and
starker challenge to the government because civilians were targeted
during an important national celebration.

Authorities initially focused on a criminal gang active in Morelia
known as La Familia. But then banners appeared in the picturesque
colonial town, purportedly the work of La Familia, which blamed the
Zetas. Authorities said they were still investigating both groups and
had not yet eliminated suspects.