MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's government on Monday called on the United States to investigate a string of killings of its nationals by American police, voicing "profound consternation and irritation" at what it called a presumed excessive use of force.
The Mexican foreign ministry said it had asked the U.S. Department of Justice to help investigate the fatal shooting of Mexican citizen Ernesto Javier Canepa Diaz on Feb. 27 by police in Santa Ana, California.
It was the third fatal shooting of Mexicans by U.S. police in under a month, the Mexican government said.
Antonio Zambrano Montes, 35, an unemployed orchard worker from Mexico's Michoacan state, was killed last month in Pasco, a city of 68,000 residents in Washington state's agricultural heartland. The shooting was captured on video.
His death sparked protests by demonstrators who accused Pasco police of overly aggressive tactics in dealing with the Hispanic community and who likened the shooting to high-profile police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and in New York City. [ID:nL1N0VU27Z]
Days later, 31-year-old fellow Mexican national Ruben Garcia Villalpando, was killed in Texas in another incident the Mexican government blamed on U.S. police.
"Given these incidents cannot be viewed as isolated, the Mexican government has called on the Department of Justice ... to accompany the investigation of these three cases," Mexico's foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.
Mexico has repeatedly called on the United States to ensure its migrants are treated with respect and dignity.
Several Central American governments and Mexico last month voiced disappointment after a U.S. judge in Texas blocked President Barack Obama's steps to ease the threat of deportation for 4.7 million undocumented immigrants, many of them from the region. [ID:nL1N0VR24E]
The Mexican government has been grappling with rampant drug gang violence and fallout from its handling of a probe into the abduction and apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers in southwest Mexico last year.
That incident, coupled with a conflict of interest scandal involving President Enrique Pena Nieto, his wife and his foreign minister, has plunged his government into its deepest crisis.
More than 100,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2007.
(Writing by Simon Gardner)