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Mexican Officials Arrest Guadalajara Jail Guard in Death of L.A. Man

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mexican authorities said Thursday they have arrested a jail guard in the beating death of a Los Angeles man in a Guadalajara lockup two weeks ago, but the victim’s relatives said they will not be satisfied until more suspects are arrested.

“One man alone could not have done this,” said Guillermo Langarica Chavez, whose brother, Raul, was killed July 14 while in the custody of state of Jalisco police. “They are trying to cover up everything.”

Raul Langarica, 42, was the second Los Angeles man to be killed in a Mexican jail in 10 months. The South-Central Los Angeles house painter had recently won a contest from a Spanish-language newspaper in Los Angeles and had gone to his birthplace of Guadalajara to celebrate and visit friends. His family says he brought more than $8,500 of the cash with him to invest in a small business, and they believe he was killed by police who wanted the money for themselves.

Family members said that when they confronted police in Guadalajara, several thousand dollars and Langarica’s watch and jewelry were missing and all his clothes had mysteriously been burned.

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“They did this to rob him,” Guillermo Langarica said, “and we want to know what happened.”

On Thursday, two days after the Langarica family held a news conference to publicize the slaying, the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles issued a lengthy statement about the case. It said an “exhaustive investigation” by Jalisco state authorities concluded that one jail guard, Pedro Martinez Mejia, had killed Langarica.

After his arrest for trespassing, Langarica began acting “very aggressively” toward other inmates in his cell, the statement said. According to the jail’s warden, guards were sent to the cell at 10:30 p.m. on July 13 to “pacify” Langarica, who started to have convulsions and “show some symptoms of asphyxiation.”

By the time Red Cross workers arrived, the guards told investigators, Langarica was dead. Langarica’s death certificate said he died of a contusion to the chest.

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But at the news conference, family members produced photographs showing Langarica had a deep gash to his forehead and other bruises and injuries.

The statement by Mexican authorities acknowledged that the circumstances surrounding Langarica’s death remained unclear.

Miguel Escobar, spokesman for the Mexican consulate, did not elaborate on the statement except to say that the case was being overseen by officials.


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