The youngest is only 14 years old, the oldest had just turned 18. The seven Mexican teenagers were friends and family. On Saturday night, the group got together to have dinner with more relatives and enjoy the weekend. But at 4 a.m. on Sunday, several vehicles loaded with armed men broke into the ranch where they were staying, El Potrerito, in the community of Malpaso, in Zacatecas. The seven teenagers were kidnapped. Three days later, there is no news of their whereabouts.
The kidnapping of seven teenagers has once again struck fear into Zacatecas, a state accustomed to violence and disappearances. Nobody knows where the youngsters are, and the first days are key to finding them alive. Mexican authorities have launched a search operation made up of 300 soldiers from the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), the National Guard and police officers from the different communities of Villanueva, the municipality where the crime took place.
But so far, there are many more questions than certainties. It is not known why the teenagers were kidnapped, nor how many armed men took part in the crime. “Around 4 a.m. they began to notice the presence of a criminal group, people who arrived in vehicles, they took them out and took them away,” said Zacatecas prosecutor Francisco Murillo, who said police are still working to find the teenagers. Local media in Zacatecas suggested that the operation has managed to locate the alleged vehicle in which the youths were abducted; however, neither the Attorney General’s Office nor authorities have confirmed the discovery.
In its last official communication, the Attorney General’s Office announced that it had spoken to the victims’ relatives, who blocked the Zacatecas-Malpaso highway, near the Regional Security Unit (Unirse) on Tuesday to pressure authorities to take more action to find the teenagers.
“I want my son, I want my sons,” cried one of the mothers of the kidnapping victims at the road block. “We want them alive. I am not part of the government. If I were, I’d be in a helicopter,” said the woman, who also criticized the governor of Zacatecas, David Monreal, for not daring to “show his face.”
Meanwhile, the community is holding its breath and praying that the teenagers return alive. The young men who were kidnapped are:
- Jorge Alberto Ocon Acevedo, 14. When he was kidnapped, he was wearing a gold jacket, blue pants and black sneakers.
- Héctor Alejandro Saucedo Acevedo, 17. On the day of the kidnapping, he was wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue pants and white sneakers. According to the police description, he has a scar on his eyebrow and wears braces.
- Sergio Acevedo Rodríguez, 18. He was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt, black T-shirt and pants, and white sneakers. He has straight black hair and a tattoo on his right calf.
- Gumaro Santacruz Carrillo, 18. He was wearing Vans brand sneakers, a T-shirt with black and gray prints, and blue pants.
- Jesús Manuel Rodríguez Robles, 18. When he was kidnapped, he was wearing a gold chain, a diamond earring, a black fabric belt and a beanie.
- Diego Rodríguez Vidales, 17. He has tattoos on his left arm, right forearm and right calf.
- Jesús Manuel Rodríguez Robles, 18. He is the tallest of the group, at 1.78 meters.
According to official data, of the 111,648 missing people in Mexico, 3,650 are from Zacatecas. Like much of the rest of the country, the state is disputed by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (JNGC) and the Sinaloa Cartel. The two criminal organizations are fighting one another for control of the area and its drug trafficking routes. In 2021, Zacatecas was the state with the highest number of people who had been forced to flee from violence, according to a January report by the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights.
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