Monterrey, Nuevo Leon – At least seven people, one of them a U.S. citizen, were kidnapped Wednesday by dozens of gunmen who targeted two hotels in downtown Monterrey, the capital of Mexico’s Nuevo Leon state, a police spokesman said.
Between 10 and 12 SUVs arrived at the hotels, carrying the gunmen involved in the kidnappings, a Nuevo Leon State Investigations Agency, or AEI, spokesman told Efe.
The Holiday Inn and Mision hotels, located on Hidalgo and Garibaldi streets in downtown Monterrey, were stormed by nearly 50 gunmen who overpowered the security guards and then searched the rooms, abducting at least six men and an American woman.
The gunmen carried out the kidnappings at around 3:00 a.m., blocking several streets with large trucks so army patrols could not reach the hotels.
“They took several (people), they were armed, you could hear banging and screams,” a guest told Mexican media.
Investigators are gathering information and have still not identified the kidnapping victims, Nuevo Leon Attorney General’s Office spokesman Mario Perez told reporters.
The AEI, meanwhile, confirmed Wednesday that a burned body was found in the rural city of Bravo, while a man was gunned down in Santiago, a town located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of that city.
Another body of a man was found in the municipaly of Santiago. With his pants down and a shirt over his face, the body showed the coup de grace (tiro de gracia). He had the initials "CDG" Gulf Cartel" written on him and a green cardboard with this message:
"This message is for the CDG, cartel of geese, you suckling gandallas, come over to where I gave you a "vergiza" last night. ATTE. Zetas"
Three police officers have been killed in Bravo in separate incidents in the past three weeks.
Nuevo Leon and neighboring Tamaulipas state have been rocked by a wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers battling for control of smuggling routes into the United States.
The violence has intensified in the two border states since the appearance in Monterrey in February of giant banners heralding an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia drug cartels against Los Zetas, a band of Mexican special forces deserters turned hired guns.
After several years as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.
The cartels arrayed against Los Zetas blame the group’s involvement in kidnappings, armed robbery and extortion for discrediting “true drug traffickers” in the eyes of ordinary Mexicans willing to tolerate the illicit trade as long as the gangs stuck to their own unwritten rule against harming innocents.
The authorities of Nuevo Leon confirmed the kidnapping of at least six people in two hotels in downtown Monterrey during the morning.
At a press conference, the public relations of the Attorney General of the State (PGJE), Alejandro Garza y Garza said there were four guests, two receptionists and "presumably" a private security guard abducted by a group of at least 30 armed persons.
He said that in the first event that was reported at 2:30 am at the Holiday Inn located in Garibaldi Street, between Padre Mier and Morelos, the first block in this city, between 10 and 15 vehicles in which between 20 and 30 people were travelling raided the facilities of the hotel.
Offenders entered the lobby of the establishment with a person in handcuffs, who was telling them of the presence of a host they were looking for.
While a group of the criminal searched several rooms, others guarded the entrances to the hotel. They abducted Luis Miguel González Maroto, who was registered as originating from the Mexico city and manager of a company.
Other people abducted were Ángel Ernesto Montes de Oca Sánchez also from Mexico city, Manuel Juarez and Aracely Hernandez who is an employee of a company from Reynosa, Tamaulipas.
The Holiday Inn hotel receptionist that was abducted was identified as David Salas. Although a private security guard of a nearby business is listed as missing, "we cannot say for certain that has been also abducted," said the official speaker of the PGJE.
A guest of the hotel of Oriental origin was taken from her room, but when he did not match who they were looking for they let him go, but not after they took his laptop.
The armed group after leaving the hotel took the hotel computer from the hotel reception area which contains the register of guests register and they also took the video from the security cameras.
Minutes later at the Mission Hotel not far from the Holiday Inn was also raided by the armed group, but police officers at the scene did not report the facts.
The state Public Safety Secretary Luis Carlos Trevino Berchelmann said that during the afternoon, they reported the presence of a convoy of "suspect" in the town of Cadereyta, causing a mobilization of state, federal and military on the highway leading to Monterrey-Reynosa.
The only data so far that could be confirmed was the theft of a vehicle from a driver on the stretch of a toll road.
"We continue to search, we are conducting roadblocks not only in this area, but in the peripheral part of all access roads and to the border of the state of Tamaulipas" he said.
During the press conference headed by the State Government Secretary General, Javier Treviño Cantú, he insisted on coordinating with federal authorities and the need to professionalize and purge police forces.