A woman holds a poster with the image of the seven kidnapped teenagers in Zacatecas on September 26. Adolfo Vladimir (CUARTOSCURO)
The horror never ends in Mexico. Zacatecas authorities have found six of the seven teenagers missing in Villanueva dead, State Government Secretary Rodrigo Reyes confirmed to EL PAÍS. Only one of the youths, whose identity was not revealed “out of respect for the families,” survived and is being treated at the State General Hospital for two head injuries and a broken nose. According to the prosecutor’s office, he is “under the protection of law enforcement elements and with the support of a psychologist.” The same helicopter that discovered the survivor located at least three seemingly lifeless bodies from the air in an area “difficult to access because there are no roads.” When officers arrived at the scene, they found the six bodies. His relatives identify the remains.
The seven boys were kidnapped by a group of armed men early Sunday morning. Their identities are Jorge Alberto René Ocón Acevedo, 14 years old; Óscar Ernesto Rojas Alvarado, 15; Diego Rodriguez Vidales, 17; Hector Alejandro Saucedo Acevedo, 17; Sergio Yobani Acevedo Rodriguez, 18; Gumaro Santacruz Carrillo, 18; and Jesús Manuel Rodríguez Robles, who was the same age. The motive for the crime is unknown and it is also unknown which organized crime group is behind it.
The police arrested two teenagers on Tuesday who “could be linked to the events of the enforced disappearance,” said the Attorney General Francisco Murillo at a press conference this Wednesday. The two suspects, “originally from the state of Durango,” “will be placed at the disposal of the Attorney General’s Office.” They were arrested in Genaro Codinas, a municipality 70 kilometers from Malpaso, the municipality of Villanueva, where the seven young people were kidnapped.
At four in the morning on Sunday, a group of armed men in several vehicles broke into the El Potrerito ranch, property of the parents of Héctor Alejandro Saucedo Acevedo, where the seven young people were resting. They had spent Saturday night together and were staying the night. Three of them were first cousins, the rest were very close friends because they studied together at the local institute. The commando fired into the air to intimidate them and took the teenagers away, still barefoot, according to the father of one of them, who was consulted by this newspaper and preferred not to be named.
“The authorities are 100 or 200 meters from the ranch where they were kidnapped. They didn’t hear the shots, they didn’t hear anything. They sent a police officer after eight in the morning, the pure officer went without a weapon, without a protector, nothing. “All the residents around the houses heard the shots, it can’t be that they didn’t hear them,” protests the same father.
Family members have no doubt that the crime was originally a kidnapping. On the afternoon of Tuesday and the morning of this Wednesday, they blocked Federal Highway 54, which connects Zacatecas with Guadalajara, Jalisco, a common practice used by relatives of missing people to put pressure on the authorities. “They are children, they are all students. “They wanted to blackmail us, but we didn’t agree to give them the money, so we’re demonstrating,” defended the father, who claimed to have received videos from the kidnappers of his children walking “along the street.” The State Ministry contradicts this version with a euphemism: it is not a kidnapping, but a “deprivation of liberty”, since, according to his story, no one asked for a ransom, a story that the family members categorically rejected.
The authorities carried out an operation involving more than 300 soldiers from the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), the National Guard (GN) and police officers from the different municipalities of Villanueva. But the efforts came too late, complain the victims’ families.
The case is reminiscent of the kidnapping of five other teenagers last August in Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco. The incident shocked the country due to the particular cruelty and brutality of the kidnappers, who released a video in which the five childhood friends were seen being forced to torture each other. His remains were later found completely charred. If this event has struck the conscience of a stunned country, the six teenagers from Villanueva have remembered that, despite all the signs of horror that Mexico registers day after day, nothing changes. According to a study by the organization Impunidad Cero, there are now more than 100,000 cases of enforced disappearances and less than 1% of crimes are solved. And the population continues to be disappeared and murdered without the authorities managing to put an end to a crisis of perpetual violence.
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