Mexican Soldiers Charged With Homicide

MEXICO CITY — Nineteen Mexican soldiers have been charged with homicide in the killings of two women and three children whose vehicle failed to stop at an army checkpoint.

The Defense Department said in a news release Monday that three officers and 16 enlisted personnel would be tried by a military court. The soldiers are being held at a prison in the Pacific Coast city of Mazatlan, in Sinaloa state where the shooting took place.

The family was traveling to a funeral on June 1 when they were ordered to stop at the checkpoint near the village of La Joya. When they did not, the soldiers reportedly opened fire on the van.

The shooting is the latest case of suspected abuse by soldiers deployed by President Felipe Calderon in a national offensive against powerful drug cartels.

Calderon has sent more than 24,000 soldiers and federal police to battle heavily armed drug gangs blamed for more than 1,000 deaths this year, including dozens of victims who have been decapitated.