Tuesday, April 12, 2011
2 Victims of San Fernando, Tamaulipas massacre identified, more bodies found
Two victims - a Mexican and a Guatemalan - have been identified from among the 88 bodies found in the past few days in the mass graves outside San Fernando, a city in northeastern Mexico.
One of the victims was identified as Gonzalo Garcia Casanova, who lived in the rural community of La Luz near Matamoros, a border city across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, a Tamaulipas state Attorney General's Office spokesman told reporters.
"His mother identified him by the two tattoos he had on the wrists and the surname Casanova tattooed on his back," the AG's office spokesman said, adding that the victim bought and sold cars for customers in central Mexico.
The woman said her son had traveled to the central state of Queretaro to sell some automobiles and was returning to Matamoros, which is in Tamaulipas, on March 29 aboard a bus that was stopped by armed men, who kidnapped him.
The Guatemalan Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, confirmed Tuesday that a man from the Central American country was among those killed in Tamaulipas.
Feliciano Tagual Ovalle, a 44-year-old migrant, was identified by the Mexican Attorney General's Office, Guatemalan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Furlan said.
The body of Tagual Ovalle, who was from the northwestern province of Chimaltenango, was found in one of the mass graves, Furlan said.
The Mexican AG's office released the photos Monday of the 16 suspects arrested in connection with the killings.
The majority of the suspects, who are believed to belong to the Los Zetas drug cartel, were arrested in early April, the AG's office said.
The last two arrests were made on Sunday and Monday, officials said.
Two women are among the suspects, the AG's office said, adding that the first 14 suspects arrested would be held in preventive detention for 40 days while prosecutors gathered evidence in the case.
The suspects allegedly abducted and killed bus passengers in Tamaulipas.
One of the suspects, Armando Morales Uscanga, told investigators that he participated in the kidnapping and killing of bus passengers on March 24 and March 29, officials said.
He also confessed to killing and burying 43 people, whose remains were found last Wednesday at a site outside San Fernando.
Morales Uscanga was carrying nearly $5,000 in Mexican and U.S. currency, as well as an assault rifle, at the time of his arrest.
The majority of the victims were apparently Mexicans, officials said.
Gunmen stopped a bus and took away all the young males, releasing older males and women, eyewitnesses to one of the mass kidnappings told Mexican media.
The dangerous situation in the area has forced some bus companies operating out of Reynosa, located across the border from McAllen, Texas, to suspend service on routes that pass through San Fernando, affecting thousands of people, the press reported.
Los Zetas, considered Mexico's most violent drug cartel, has been blamed for the wave of violence in Tamaulipas and other parts of northern Mexico.
Some gangs have resorted to using unusual methods to recruit gunmen because of the high casualties in the war being waged by rival drug traffickers for control of territory, the federal government says.
The incidents involving the buses may have been an attempt to recruit gunmen, investigators said.
Los Zetas is suspected of murdering 72 migrants last August at a ranch outside San Fernando after they refused to join the organization as hired guns.
The bodies of the 58 men and 14 women were discovered on Aug. 24 by marines after a shootout with gunmen that left a marine and three criminals dead.
The massacre victims came from Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Brazil and India, but the majority were Hondurans.
The mass graves found recently are in La Joya, a rural community outside San Fernando, near where the migrants' bodies were discovered last summer.
News of the mass graves' discovery broke last Wednesday, the same day that thousands of people marched in cities across Mexico to call for an end to the wave of drug-related violence.
UPDATE: 12 April 2011 3:20 pm
Although news, blogs and tweets are citing different figures, it is being reported around 40 more bodies have been found, including two women.
According to a recent tweet from El Norte PGR confirms 116 bodies in total have been found. (3:58 pm)
La titular de la PGR dijo que hasta el momento han sido encontrados 116 cadáveres en las fosas de San Fernando, Tamaulipas.
Attorney General Marisela Morales confirms 116 bodies have been found as well as the arrest of suspect #17, Jony Torres Andrade, alias "La Sombra".
New CNN report and Video:5:51 pm Jose Francisco Blake Mora states federal troops will remain in San Fernando, Tamps. and federal checkpoints and operations will be made permanent along Tamaulipas highways.