The mayor of Apaxtla, retired Army General, Salvador Martínez Villalobos, informed via telephone that the land and air operations in search of the 17 people who were kidnapped by members of a criminal group continued yesterday, but they had not had positive results.
Martínez Villalobos, who was elected mayor by the New Alliance (PANAL) party said, however, that he believes that the criminal group continues in the area.
He also assures that the criminals have not asked for money in exchange for the people, so they do not know the causes for why they were kidnapped, since they were common people.
Since, Tuesday, December, 8, a group of around 15-20 men with rifles, military-style fatigues, and huaraches intercepted a public service Nissan Urvan along the road Apaxtla-El Caracol and deprived five people of their liberty who were from the communities of Tetela del Río and Amacahuite, municipality of Heliodoro Castillo (Tlacotepec).
It subsequently emerged that some 17 people are being held by the armed group.
“Until now, the operation has not been successful, there have been two flights, yesterday (Saturday) and today (Sunday) but nothing has been located,” said the mayor, who explained that yesterday’s aerial reconnaissance was in the municipal capital of Apaxtla and in the communities of Xochitepec, Tierra Blanca, San Felipe del Ocote and Liberaltepec.
Martínez Villalobos added that he assumes that the criminals are still in the area.
-Why do you believe that they are still in the area?
“There are things that cannot be assured, but we believe that they are still in the area because it isn’t easy to get out.”
He reported that the Military Police, soldiers from the 27th Infantry Battalion based in Iguala, and members of the Federal Police who are stationed in the municipal capital, are participating in the search operations. But, he said that he doesn’t know the number of troops involved, “because it isn’t convenient to ask.”
But he explained that the encirclement that has been established is via land and air, because since yesterday, the helicopter that was sent by the state government was hovering overhead.
-On Friday, the governor declared that until that day, they had not contacted you personally, what is it that prevents communication between you to?
“I am communicating with the secretary of government because the last time I wanted to communicate, he was in meetings with the National Security Council. I think he has many important activities as well, and with me, with the education that I have, I do not like to disturb when it’s not convenient, but I am coordinating with the people who manage the issue, and I inform them in writing, but his colleagues would tell me when I have to communicate with them, or if there is a need for a meeting,” the mayor answered.
-What do their families say? Is it any kind of revenge or why do they believe that they took them?
“Nothing, they are humble people, and they say that they have no connection with any activity that may be the result of a vendetta.”
For the mayor, the deprivation of liberty of individuals is a rare situation, since they haven’t asked for money to release them, “there is no indication that we can tell what the motive was,” he said.
He also said that the place where the criminals are supposedly in, there is no communication, “even if they want to talk, if they are outside of the area, there’s no chance, hopefully if they are out and they have the ability to communicate, they’ll communicate or ask for something, if they want money or something like that.”
He said that from testimonies of neighbors who saw them in the communities, they say that there are 22 and others say 14 armed men who took them as hostages.
-Are they people from the municipality or did they come from somewhere else?
“No, they aren’t from this municipality, they came from elsewhere. They are armed people who I can’t say if they belong to this group or that,” the mayor said.