Authorities in the violent Mexican state of Veracruz accused two former state police chiefs and other top cops Thursday of running a hit squad that abducted and presumably killed at least 15 people.
A total of 20 people were arrested, charged or targeted with arrest warrants in the case, the product of a more than year-long investigation, said Governor Miguel Angel Yunes.
"This investigation proved that certain bad elements (in the police force) and their commanders violated the most basic human right: the right to life," his office said in a statement.
The crimes were allegedly perpetrated mainly during the administration of ex-governor Javier Duarte, who is currently in jail awaiting trial on corruption charges, and is accused of presiding over gross human rights violations in the eastern state.
Those charged include former state police chief Arturo Bermudez, who was already in jail on corruption charges, and former state prisons director Oscar Sanchez, who is currently serving time for another disappearance case.
An arrest warrant was issued for another ex-state police chief, Jose Nabor Nava.
Those arrested include the former director general of an elite police squad called the civil force, Roberto Gonzalez, and an ex-commander of the police special forces, Jose Lopez.
Survivors of one attack accused Gonzalez and his officers of detaining, torturing and raping them, a source close to the case told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"Impunity no longer reigns in Veracruz. The government is no longer at the service of criminals," Yunes said in the statement.
At least 3,600 people have been reported missing in the last 12 years in Veracruz, one of the states hit hardest by turf wars between Mexico's multi-billion-dollar drug cartels.