Gomez Palacios, Mex - Burial is scheduled tomorrow for El Monte educator Bobby Salcedo, one week after gunmen killed him in a drug cartel hot zone in Northern Mexico.
As drug-related violence has risen, the Mexican government has worked hard to convince people beyond its borders to visit. The death of U.S. citizen Bobby Salcedo didn’t help.
Mexico’s consul general in Los Angeles, Juan Marcos Gutierrez-Gonzalez, says tourists and people visiting their families should take precautions. "Let’s be honest about the situation. There are some specific places and some specific situations that can present some kind of threat for some and they should try to avoid it."
A day before the New Year, gunmen pulled Salcedo and five other men from a restaurant in Gomez Palacio that had a record of violent incidents. Hours later, police found Salcedo fatally shot in the head.
State police in Mexico say they don’t believe Salcedo had ties to drug dealers. Investigators want to know whether anyone in the restaurant that night, including the men in Salcedo’s party, did.
Hospital technician Manuel Medrano of Los Angeles visits relatives in the Gomez Palacio area a lot. During a visit there last year, Medrano found out that the drug trafficking’s web had reached the edges of his family.
"My cousin’s brother in law, they were involved in that. When I was there they had a party and they said they were there and my cousin personally told him he had to leave the party. That party was a family party, and they didn’t want any problems with other people coming in because they were looking for them."
Medrano recommends that people who make family visits to Mexico ask the uncomfortable questions about whether they’re involved in criminal dealings.
Jorge Fuentes of Hawthorne is aware of the problem. But he won’t let Bobby Salcedo’s killing keep him from visiting with family. As he waits for his wife outside a beauty salon at Lynwood’s Plaza Mexico, Fuentes did admit to nervousness during a visit to his in-laws’ small town.
"My wife, she’s from the northern, Sinaloa part, and right there, and when I went to visit there about a year ago, you could just tell the tension. You could feel it, you know. You talk to people and all they talk about is things that have been going on there for the last years and stuff."
There’s little such trouble in his ancestral town in the coastal state of Colima. So Fuentes says his family visits there more often now.
Maria Anunciacion Feliciano waits in line at the Mexican Consulate’s mobile office in the mall and talks about the fear in her stomach about a planned trip to Mexico this month. "I have to leave in a few days to pick up immigration documents in Ciudad Juarez."
She says she’s sad that after years away from Mexico, the drug violence there has dampened her enthusiasm to see her native land.