LATIN AMERICA

Bodies of missing Veracruz students found

Six corpses discovered, including the remains of three youths who had been missing since October 1

Demonstration for missing students in Veracruz.
Demonstration for missing students in Veracruz.Luis Monroy / EFE

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The search for three missing students in the tumultuous Mexican state of Veracruz has come to an end. Their remains were found on Saturday next to three other bodies in the town of Camarón de Tejeda, near its port, according to the Veracruz Attorney General’s Office. Relatives identified the students and officials believe the victims were murdered by organized crime groups.

Leonardo Arano, Gustavo García Baruch and Génesis Urrutia were all university students aged between 22 and 24. On September 29, they left a shopping mall together and then failed to contact their families. Relatives reported them missing on October 1. After a full week passed without anyone asking for ransom, authorities discarded any kidnapping theories and said some factors in the case were “possibly linked to organized crime.” Officials were also searching for another young man who disappeared from the same town on the same day.

On Friday, Camarón de Tejeda residents reported finding some foul-smelling black bags on an estate

On Friday, Camarón de Tejeda residents reported finding some foul-smelling black bags on an estate. Inside were six dismembered bodies burned with acid, some of them decapitated, local media said. After several days of grappling with uncertainty, probing for answers and staging protests to call for justice, the missing students’ parents traveled to the state capital, Xalapa, to meet with forensic experts. At the weekend officials confirmed that the three missing students are among the bodies found.

The Veracruz Attorney General’s Office did not offer more details about the discovery. It only said three of the bodies located were “fully identified by family members,” and that the other missing youth was not among the remains. Officials say they will continue to search for him.

Authorities have not presented any motives for the killings or any details about which elements in the case were linked to organized crime. Génesis Urrutia’s father says some witnesses said the students may have been abducted while walking at night. Others suggested they took a taxi when they left the girl’s house and then disappeared. Little is known about the two men but Urrutia’s classmates, friends and family members have spoken out about her disappearance and pressed authorities to take action. She was an outstanding student in communication studies and received a scholarship to study in Ecuador. Marco Malpica, director of her college, told the press: “We are fed up. Criminal delinquency is winning.”

The crime took place at a particularly delicate moment in Mexico, especially in the south and southeast of the country

The crime took place at a particularly delicate moment in Mexico, especially in the south and southeast of the country. The students disappeared in Veracruz three days after the second anniversary of the mass disappearance of 43 student teachers in Iguala, Guerrero. In January, Veracruz police arrested another group of students while they were out having fun. They were found dead the next day. Veracruz has one of the highest crime rates in the country, authorities are always finding new secret grave sites and Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte is under federal investigation for corruption.

English version by Dyane Jean François.

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