Mexican authorities have arrested 17 suspects, including two police officers, in a brutal attack on a summer camp in which two young women and three underage girls were raped.
The attorney general of the central state of Mexico, Alfredo Castillo, said at a press conference that a Federal District (Mexico City) police officer, a policeman in the central city of Chalco and a former soldier were among the 15 men and two women arrested.
All of the suspects were arrested Wednesday in the small central town of Santa Maria Huexoculco, part of the Chalco municipality, while authorities were still searching for four other reputed members of the gang.
On the night of July 12, a group of around 90 youth attending a Christian camp at the El Colibri eco-park outside the city of Ixtapaluca were held against their will and brutalized for several hours before the attackers made off with their belongings.
Five young women - three of them minors - were raped and three others were sexually assaulted, while several young men were beaten.
Of the 17 detainees, 11 have been identified by the victims and three have confessed to rape, Castillo said.
The detainees are suspected members of a gang that operated in the area and is believed to have carried out other attacks on tourists camping in nearby parks.
Castillo said some of the detainees may not have been directly involved in the attack on the camp in Ixtapaluca but all are members of the gang and therefore probable suspects in other crimes.
Three individuals identified as Paulino Cadena Estrada (the former soldier), Andres Castillo Estrada and Jaime Perez Cadena also are accused in the killings of three employees of a private security firm several weeks ago.
The 17 individuals were detained in or near their homes, having decided not to flee because they had spent all the money they had stolen and assumed that police would not enter their community.
Some of the items stolen from the campers were found at their homes, including mobile phones and clothing and the weapons they used to fired shots into the air to intimidate their victims.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon met Wednesday at the Los Pinos presidential residence with parents and attorneys of the victims of the attack in Ixtapaluca, the president’s office said in a statement.
During the meeting, Calderon expressed his “outrage,” condemned the attack and expressed solidarity with the victims and their parents.
He pledged his government’s full support and urged state authorities to prosecute those responsible for the attack to the fullest extent of the law.