The Forever Search
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In what the BBC called a “twisted moral code,” Mexican mobsters affiliated with the Scorpions Group, a faction of the drug-running Gulf Cartel crime syndicate, recently forced five of their members to turn themselves in to police for murdering two of the four Americans they had mistakenly kidnapped in early March.
Crime bosses in Matamoros, a city across the border from Brownsville, Texas, even left a note saying the men acted of their own volition, not at the behest of their drug lords, and broke cartel rules protecting innocents.
Lest anyone think this action reflects a softening of the Mexican cartels’ violent ways, advocates for victims of crime in the Latin American country noted that while two of the Americans made it back home, more than 100,000 other people are still missing in Mexico, CNN reported.
The advocates are angry with the government as well as the drug traffickers. Mexican officials have blamed their own police and security forces for disappearing people in extrajudicial actions or on the orders of the deep-pocketed criminals who bribe them and corrupt their departments. A lack of forensic expertise and facilities in the country has also led to the government holding some 52,000 unidentified bodies while families search for the missing. Many families have launched their own investigations to find their loved ones.
“Working with picks and shovels, they have discovered clandestine graves and extermination sites, facing risks, lack of resources, and extreme conditions,” wrote WOLA, a Washington, DC-based group that aims to advance human rights in the Americas.
Mexicans in the state of Tamaulipas were understandably angry at the speed at which authorities and the cartel found the kidnapped Americans. Nearly 13,000 Mexicans are now listed as missing from the region, according to the Associated Press. Delia Quiroa, for instance, has been searching for her brother for nine years since gunmen kidnapped him. She frequently walks the northern Mexico deserts with a shovel and other tools in hopes of finding a mass grave where her brother might have been laid to rest.
Meanwhile, shootings and other violence have risen in northern Mexico as drug gangs battle for turf and market share. As CBS News recently wrote, the body of a gangster boss was found in another northern state, Sinaloa. The boss’s name was José Noriel Portillo Gil, also known as “El Chueco,” or “the Crooked One” in Spanish. Among other misdeeds, he stood accused of murdering two Jesuit priests last year.
These developments are signs of a deeper sickness in Mexico, argued InSight Crime. Internecine conflicts between gang factions, corrupt police, incompetent or honest but outgunned authorities, and other factors have allowed violence to rage out of control.
Someone besides the crime bosses needs to show some leadership.