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Three more arrested in Mexico’s missing disco revelers case

Prosecutors believe kidnappings of 12 men stem from gangland rivalries

The disco from which 12 men were abducted.
The disco from which 12 men were abducted. ALEX CRUZ (EFE)

Prosecutors in Mexico City announced on Monday the arrests of three more people in connection with the disappearance of 12 young men who went missing after they left a popular disco on May 26.

One of the men arrested was identified in the Mexican media as Armando Hernández, alias “El Ostión.”Hernández is the brother of the founder of a street gang called La Unión, which operates in the capital’s Tepito district and where many of the missing persons live.

“That’s correct, one of the persons we arrested goes by the name El Ostión,” said prosecutor Rodolfo Ríos, who declined to give the press more information on the suspects. In all seven people so far have been arrested in the case, which has rocked Mexico City and seen the local authorities come under fire for the growing crime problem in the capital.

The fate of the men is still unknown. The 12 friends – whose ages range from 16 to the early 30s – left the After Heavens disco, located in the fashionable Zona Rosa district, on the morning of May 26. Surveillance cameras outside showed all of them entering vehicles that apparently appeared to pick them up and they were never seen again. Police believe that at least 17 people took part in the kidnappings.

Prosecutors believe that the kidnappings were in retaliation as part of a dispute between La Unión and another criminal gang, Los Tepis, also based in Tepito. The crowded central district is the capital’s drug-trafficking hotbed.

Investigators think that the two gangs have been fighting for control of the drug business that has blossomed in Tepito over the years. Just two days before the kidnappings a smalltime drug dealer who worked the nearby La Condesa area was murdered and police believe the two incidents are related. La Condesa and the adjacent La Roma district, together with Zona Rosa, make up a large area where popular nightclubs, cabarets and discos are located.

One of the kidnapping victims has been identified as Jerzy Ortiz, the 16-year-old son of Jorge “El Tanque” Ortiz, a smalltime crime boss who is serving 10 years for extortion. Prosecutor Ríos said that the elder Ortiz belonged to La Unión.

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