CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) — It's practically a daily ritual: Accused drug traffickers and assassins, shackled and bruised from beatings, are paraded before the news media to show that Mexico is winning its drug war. Once the television lights dim, however, about three-quarters of them are let go.
Even as President Felipe Calderon's government touts its arrest record, cases built by prosecutors and police under huge pressure to make swift captures unravel from lack of evidence. Innocent people are tortured into confessing. The guilty are set free, only to be hauled in again for other crimes. Sometimes, the drug cartels decide who gets arrested.
Records obtained by The Associated Press showed that the government arrested 226,667 drug suspects between December 2006 and September 2009, the most recent numbers available. Less than a quarter of that number were charged. Only 15 percent saw a verdict, and the Mexican attorney general's office won't say how many of those were guilty.
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