Mexican government: Evidence indicates crash that killed Cabinet secretary accidental | VailDaily.com

Mexican government: Evidence indicates crash that killed Cabinet secretary accidental

Associated Press

MEXICO CITY – Mexico rushed to assure foreign diplomats on Thursday that the helicopter crash that killed the top federal police official was an accident, and that nobody was trying to cover up a possible killing or sabotage.Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said he has called foreign diplomats, including the U.S. ambassador, to assure them experts had determined the Wednesday crash was an accident, despite reports that one of the men aboard had received death threats from an alleged drug lord.”It is important to send an immediate message to the entire world, and to Mexico, so that it is quite clear to everybody that nobody is covering up anything and that what we have here is an unfortunate accident,” Derbez said.Mexico has been sensitive about a perception of violence and lawlessness here since the U.S. government briefly closed its consulate in the northern border city of Nuevo Laredo earlier this year following a spike in killings there. U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza has taken Mexico to task for the deteriorating security situation here.The president’s office said Thursday that all available evidence suggested bad weather led to a helicopter crash that killed Public Safety Secretary Ramon Martin Huerta, Federal Preventive Police Commissioner Tomas Valencia, five other passengers and a crew of two.It took off from Mexico City and crashed into a wooded mountainside about 20 miles (30 kilometers) outside Mexico City.”All the elements that we have at hand, all the experts that were consulted, say that there is sufficient evidence to consider that that we are dealing with an accident,” presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar said at a news conference. “But we must wait for the results of the investigation.”Among the passengers killed in the crash was Jose Antonio Bernal, an official from the country’s National Human Rights Commission. The commission announced shortly after the helicopter went missing that Bernal been threatened in the past by reputed drug lord Osiel Cardenas, reportedly for refusing greater privileges for Cardenas in prison.Aguilar said officials were puzzled by the announcement, calling the timing of the commission’s letter so soon after the crash “strange.”The first recovered body was airlifted from the mountains Thursday morning as aviation investigators reached the crash site at an altitude of 11,200 feet (3,400 meters).The helicopter’s impact left debris scattered among pine trees. Police and soldiers gathered body bags in a nearby clearing.The remains were transported to offices of the Mexico State attorney general’s office for identification, and seven were then taken to Mexico City’s main military parade ground for a memorial service attended by President Vicente Fox. Bernal’s body was given a private service.As public safety secretary, Martin Huerta was a key figure in Mexico’s fight against drug gangs and he led a campaign to clamp down on security at high-security prisons, including La Palma prison outside Mexico City, where the helicopter had been headed for a swearing-in ceremony for prison guards.Moving up the chain of command, Rafael Rios became secretary of public safety, while Arturo Jimenez stepped in as chief of the Federal Preventative Police.Valencia had been promoted to his police chief post, answering to Huerta, in January after his predecessor was fired for a botched response to an attack by a mob in Mexico City that left two federal agents dead.Civil aviation authorities at the Communications and Transportation Department were leading the investigation into what caused the crash. Aguilar promised the results would be made public and urged people not to speculate about the cause of the crash.Vail, Colorado