Mexico is searching for an exterminating angel. He has no known face or age, yet everyone knows what he has done. At 6am on Monday, he got up from his seat on a passenger bus and deployed his wings of vengeance, killing four robbers who were holding up the vehicle.
Sitting in the back, this individual waited for the thieves to take all the passengers’ possessions, then executed them one by one.
He then returned all the belongings, stepped off the bus, and disappeared into the night.
No witness has stepped up to report him, not even the bus driver. Everyone claims that it was too dark to see his features.
People feel helpless and tired of being a victim
Alejandro Hope, analyst
But this mysterious figure has triggered an unsettling debate in a country already ravaged by all possible forms of violence.
Many people here see this man as an avenger. Some openly applaud his actions, while others consider it proof of the authorities’ failure to enforce justice.
Whether an angel or a demon, his actions have left nobody indifferent.
A reconstruction of events using data from the prosecutor’s office and witness accounts shows that the killings took place between 5.30am and 6am on Monday, October 31.
The intercity bus was headed for Mexico City after departing from San Mateo Atenco. The route covered 62 kilometers along a good road. There were 53 passengers aboard the vehicle.
The robbers got on at the stop in San Pedro Tultepec, posing as regular passengers. Five kilometers later, near Ocoyoacac, they brought out their arms.
The gang leader pointed his weapon at the driver while his accomplices, knives in hand, began taking money and cellphones from the passengers. One man sitting in the back resisted, but was forcibly subdued. The booty was stashed inside two backpacks.
The vehicle began to slow down. The leader kept talking on his phone; the rest of the gang was waiting for them just 3,000 meters away, on a curve that bus drivers have learned to fear because of the numerous robberies that take place there.
As they were approaching the spot, the robbers walked to the door of the bus. At that moment, a man in the back stood up, drew a gun, pointed and pulled the trigger four times. Each bullet hit its mark. The bus kept moving.
The gang leader was the first to fall. The bullet went right through his left shoulder blade and burst his carotid artery. He bled to death.
Whether an angel or a demon, his actions leave nobody indifferent
His three colleagues, wounded and panicking, crowded together by the door. The exterminator came towards them. The bus swerved suddenly and the door opened. The leader’s body rolled down and his accomplices jumped out in a futile attempt to flee. The avenger followed them and finished them off, one by one.
The mystery man then picked up the backpacks, returned everyone’s possessions, and asked that nobody reveal his identity. Then he turned around and disappeared into the depths of the natural park of La Marquesa.
The bus continued on its journey. Authorities would later find the bodies of Víctor Martínez Gómez, Arturo Martínez Hernández, Jorge Arturo García López and Gustavo Gil García, cousins with a long criminal record of around 30 hold-ups.
Since then, eyewitnesses have remained silent and prosecutors have yet to offer any names. Security experts feel that the killer must be a policeman or member of the military. It would not be the first time. On August 17, a soldier in civilian clothes killed two robbers on a bus from Naucalpan to Juárez.
Security experts feel that the killer must be a policeman or member of the military – it would not be the first time
It could also have been a hitman, or just a regular citizen who was sick and tired of the rampant insecurity in the country. Last year, around 3,000 buses were held up, 2,732 damaged by vandals and a further 1,589 illegally seized.
In the Valley of Toluca alone, where this latest killing has taken place, around 600 buses have been victimized by organized crime. The avengers have started to multiply.
“There is a radical abandonment by the government; necessary action is not being taken, and the states hide behind the excuse that this is a federal problem,” says Alejandro Hope, an analyst and former official with Mexico’s intelligence services. “People feel helpless and tired of being a victim. In the absence of authority, this type of avenger generates sympathy, he is someone who defends them.”
English version by Susana Urra.