Monterrey, NL - Army troops rescued eight people who had been kidnapped in Guadalupe, a city in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, and arrested a suspect, military spokesmen said.
An anonymous telephone tip led the soldiers to a crane rental business that was being used as a safe house for holding hostages.
The suspect arrested in the operation was in charge of guarding the hostages.
The military spokesmen did not provide any information on the identity of the hostages or on who abducted them.
Mexican lawmakers, representatives of non-governmental organizations and legal experts participating in a conference rejected the idea Monday of using the death penalty or life in prison to deal with kidnappings, one of the biggest problems in the country.
Eleven vehicles that had been reported stolen were found at the property where the hostages were being held.
More than 50 SUVs and automobiles have been taken in armed robberies in the past week in the Monterrey metropolitan area.
Military intelligence services say the vehicles were stolen for use in the war between rival drug gangs in neighboring Tamaulipas state.
The falling out between the Gulf cartel and “Los Zetas,” the criminal organization’s former armed wing, has led to shootouts in cities in Tamaulipas near the U.S. border.
Threats have prevented media outlets from reporting on the shootouts, prompting citizens to use social networking Web sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to get the word out.
The Tamaulipas state government initially questioned the Web reports of shootouts, but it has now taken steps to deal with the situation, including asking federal officials for assistance and launching a Web site of its own.
Tamaulipas officials have added a “Breaking News Center” to the state’s Web site, providing residents with information about incidents in all cities in the northeastern state.
Rumors about attacks and shootouts caused a panic last week among residents, leading to 90 percent absenteeism at schools of all levels, Gov. Eugenio Hernandez Flores said.
The state’s Web site – www.tamaulipas.gob.mx – provides “a tool for informing citizens in a timely fashion about public safety incidents that occur,” officials said.
Reynosa, a city on the border with Texas, has also added tools to its Web site – www.reynosa.gob.mx/proteccioncivil – to control rumors and keep residents informed about dangerous situations.
Officials in the border city are using tips about dangerous situations submitted by residents over Twitter, posting those that are confirmed.
Incidents that are not confirmed are listed as rumors. EFE