It could either be looked at as a scene from a Hollywood movie or a tasteless hoax. Whatever the case, investigators in the Mexican state of Chihuahua are taking very seriously a claim made by a person calling herself “Diana, the bus driver hunter” who has assumed “vengeful” responsibility for the murders of two bus drivers in Ciudad Juárez last week.
The separate incidents occurred on August 28 and 29 on the A-4 highway, which connects the state capital’s outlying neighborhoods with the center of the city. In both cases, witnesses have come forward and said that it was indeed a woman who gunned down the drivers.
On August 30, the daily La Polaka reported that it had received an email from someone calling herself “Diana, the bus driver hunter.” She explained that her actions were aimed at punishing bus drivers who have committed rapes against women, especially factory workers who take the public transportation route at night.
“They think because we are women we are weak and maybe we are, up to a certain point, because we cannot lean on someone for support and we have to work late at night to maintain our families,” the email read.
“But now we can no longer remain silent about these incidents that have angered us; I myself and other women have suffered in silence. We were victims of sexual violence by the drivers on the night shift on the routes to the maquilas," the assembly plants that employ many residents in Ciudad Juárez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. "I am the instrument of vengeance for several women."
As soon as El Diario de Juárez published the email, the message was picked up by media outlets across Mexico.
There has never been a suspect like this in the past”
Carlos González, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office, said Wednesday in a telephone interview that while there “has never been a suspect like this in the past,” investigators are looking at all leads in both cases, including trying to trace the location from which the email was sent.
Authorities released a sketch of the suspect after interviewing more than 20 witnesses who were at both crime scenes. Although not all the details were released, police described the woman between 35 and 40 years of age, dressed in black with tied-back blond hair.
In the first incident, which took place at about 7.45pm, bus driver José Roberto Flores Carrera tried to run away from a woman who had stopped the bus near the small community of Partido Romero, pulled out a gun and started firing. He was eventually gunned down by the suspect on the road.
On August 29, the second murder occurred on the same route, but at 8.44 in the morning, when Fredy Zárate Morales, 32, was gunned down in the same manner.
The killings have scared off bus drivers. The Associated Press reported half of the drivers who were scheduled to work on Tuesday didn’t show up.
"There were a lot fewer passengers, too," a dispatcher, who refused to be quoted by name out of fear of being targeted, told AP. "Everyone is afraid something could happen.”
Crimes against women in Ciudad Juárez have dropped in recent months after soaring to record rates after 2007, coinciding with the Mexican government’s drive to fight against drug trafficking.
The city’s Women’s Human Rights Center reported that between 1993 and 2007 the murder rate among females stood at one every two weeks in the entire state. But by 2010 – two years after then-President Felipe Calderón declared a national war on drug cartels – the rate rose to one female being murdered every 20 hours.
The following year, there were 364 murders of women – almost one every day; between March 2012 and March 2013, 73 women were killed in Chihuahua – more than half in Ciudad Juárez, according to the state prosecutor’s office.