We recently reported on a lawsuit charging three Virginia companies with involvement in torturing detainees in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
Now it's a Florida firm that finds itself in hot water over alleged torture -- and this time the allegations don't involve brutality in Middle East war zones but rather questionable techniques taught to police fighting criminal drug cartels in Mexico.
Last week, videos emerged in the Mexican press showing employees of a U.S. security firm subjecting police trainees to questionable techniques. In one, the trainer drags the volunteer through his own vomit as punishment; in the other, the instructor squirts liquid up the nose of a trainee and shoves his head into a hole that supposedly contains rats and feces. The disturbing videos are available online here and here.
Their discovery has sparked an uproar in Mexico, where human rights investigators are looking into them.
The Narcosphere website has since identified the trainers as employees of Risks Inc. The website for the company -- which specializes in bodyguard services, weapons training and corporate investigations -- lists phone numbers in Miami and the United Kingdom.
Mexican newspaper El Universal previously identified the two instructors involved as Gerardo Arrechea and Jerry Wilson. Narcosphere suggests that Wilson is the man who's been listed variously as Orlando and Andrew and who reportedly served with the British Army in Northern Ireland and trained with U.S. Special Forces.
Identified on Risks Inc.'s site by the Anglicized "Jerry," Arrechea is a martial arts champion and stuntman. Narcosphere adds more details to his bio:
While Risks Incorporated's current website does not give a last name for Jerry, the Internet Archive Wayback Machine's January 17, 2006, archive for Risks Incorporated's website does: Arrechea. The United States Muay Thai Association (USMTA) lists Jerry Arrechea as the coach of the Muay Thai Athletic Club of Mexico, located in Naucalpan, Mexico state, which is considered within the Mexico City metropolitan area. The USMTA site says that Arrechea's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, Arrechea's colorful resume doesn't stop there. The Miami-based anti-Castro terrorist organization Comandos F4 lists a Jerry Arrechea with the email address email@example.com as its Mexico contact. The same page lists Marine Captain Gerardo Arrechea as an "International Delegate" and a member of the Comandos F4 board of directors. The Comandos F4 have openly stated to US media that they are prepared to carry out armed attacks against the Cuban government.
The controversial videos surfaced the day after President George Bush authorized the first year of the Merida Initiative, known by its critics as Plan Mexico. This three-year program will provide $1.6 billion to help the Mexican military and police fight drug cartels.
(The image, a screen grab from the training videos, shows a trainee being forced to roll in his own vomit.)