Aug/Sep 1998 Miscellany

2 Nogales, Son., cops slain; border officer held

Friday, 3 July 1998
By Tim Steller
The Arizona Daily Star

NOGALES, Sonora - Mexican police have detained an agent of Grupo Beta, the
reputedly incorruptible immigration police, in connection with the murders
of two Nogales police officers.

Adan Leal Monroy was the first person to report the murders of the two
municipal police officers late June 25.

On Monday, Sonoran police took Leal into custody without formal charges.
Under Mexican law, he can be detained that way for 30 days.

But Leal, who turns 26 today, said he expects to face charges today.

He said he found Jose Luis Hernandez, 27, and David Fernandez Morales, 24,
dead of gunshot wounds in the Solidaridad neighborhood in the southeast
outskirts of Nogales.

``Because I reported the crime, I'm responsible,'' Leal said yesterday.
``Now I understand why people don't report crimes.''

Leal started as a Nogales municipal police officer four years ago, but was
assigned to the elite Grupo Beta. That agency patrols the Mexican side of
the border and concentrates on ensuring the safety of migrants.

The agency's specialized training gave it a reputation as incorruptible
after its formation in Tijuana during the early 1990s. Leal was a
supervisor among the 13 agents stationed in Nogales until he was fired this

He was among five Grupo Beta agents to attend a memorial service for slain
Border Patrol agent Alexander Kirpnick in Tucson last month.

Rumors are flying among Nogales-area law enforcement that the killings had
something to do with drugs and corrupt police. Which police force and what
drugs are subjects of further speculation.

Leal said he had simply gone to eat at a hot dog stand with his girlfriend
late that night. They ran into a fellow Grupo Beta agent who was still in
uniform, he said.

While they conversed, a pair of teen-age boys stopped and told them two
police officers had been killed near the neighborhood, Leal said. The
agents listened to a police radio channel, but heard nothing unusual.

After dropping off his girlfriend, Leal said, he went to investigate and
found the two officers with bullet wounds - one dead, one barely alive.

``I grabbed the radio in their patrol car and said, `This is Adan Leal of
Grupo Beta. Two officers are down.' '' Leal said.

After Leal had left the scene and headed home, his colleagues came to find
him to talk to him about the incident. A special municipal police team
confronted the group near Leal's home and drew their weapons, causing tense
moment between the two forces, Leal said.

Municipal police asked Leal to submit to questioning, and he did so until
5:30 the following morning, Leal said. Three days later he was ordered
detained, and he has remained in a state police office ever since.

``I'm a toy belonging to important people who want to hide the true
perpetrators,'' Leal said.

Amado Valenzuela Ruiz, the prosecutor leading the investigation of the
murders, said Leal has not been charged, and added that he has no evidence
linking him to the crime.

The officers were shot with .38-caliber bullets, and all involved in the
case agree Leal was carrying a .40-caliber handgun that night.

``What we want to be sure of is that he's telling the truth,'' Valenzuela

He said the motive for the murders is still unclear, but acknowledged it
appears to have something to do with drugs.

``All we have is that someone shot each of them with two bullets - so
why?'' Valenzuela said.

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