Photo: Families, Friends of Kidnapped Mexican Youths Continue to Hope for Safe Return
The relatives, friends and neighbors of the 12 Mexico City youths who were taken from a bar in May in the capital marked the one-month anniversary of their disappearance and expressed hope that the young people would return home alive.
The youths’ friends and loved ones staged a march on Wednesday that ended at the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s most important church and a destination for visitors from around the world.
“I ended up being the grandmother of one of them and, obviously, I want to wake up from this nightmare,” Maria Teresa Ramos told Efe.
Ramos’s 16-year-old grandson, Jerry Ortiz, is one of the 12 young people who were led away from the Heaven bar in Mexico City’s popular Zona Rosa tourist district by masked gunmen on May 26.
“Where are they? Give them back to us already,” Ramos said.
Three people, including a suspected gang leader, have been arrested in connection with the mass kidnapping.
A judge has agreed to allow prosecutors to hold the three suspects in preventive arrest for 30 days while they build their case, Federal District Attorney Rodolfo Rios said earlier this week.
“Let the authorities do their investigation, but we don’t care if there are guilty people. What interests us is that they find them,” Ramos said.
Poet Javier Sicilia’s Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity took part in the march.
“We hope there will be a happy reunion on this earth, recovering our missing loved ones because they took them alive and we want them alive. Today, we pray for God to bring back the thousands of people who have disappeared without a trace,” the Rev. Gonzalo Ituarte said during a Mass celebrated at the basilica to mark the one-month anniversary of the youths’ disappearance.
One of the subjects arrested by investigators is suspected of being the No. 2 leader of the La Union gang, officials said.
La Union is a gang that runs extortion rackets targeting merchants in the poor Tepito neighborhood, where the victims lived.
The three suspects are being questioned by investigators, but none of them match the descriptions of the subjects involved in the mass kidnapping, Rios said.
The Citizens Public Safety Council, meanwhile, announced it was offering a reward of 10 million pesos ($750,000) for information about the whereabouts of the 12 victims.
Jerry Ortiz’s jailed father, Jorge Ortiz Reyes, is one of the leaders of the La Union gang, media reports said.
Ortiz Reyes is still running the criminal organization from prison, media reports said.
A rival gang may have staged the kidnapping to settle a score with La Union following the killing of a drug dealer in Mexico City two days before the youths disappeared, press reports said.