Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wedding in the Most Dangerous City

Authorities confirmed that the bodies found were the same ones abducted at a wedding

The District Attorney in Juarez confirmed this morning that three of the four bodies found yesterday in the back of a pickup are the same men who were abducted "levantados" on Friday during a wedding in the church "El Señor de la Misericordia."

The investigating authorities identified the victims as: Guadalupe Morales Arriola 51, Rafael Morales Valencia 29, and Jaime Morales Valencia 25. A fourth person remains as unidentified. A police source confirmed that Rafael Morales was the man who was getting married that day, his brother Jaime Morales and Guadalupe Morales was the best man.

The four dead were found in a 2006 Toyota Tacoma truck that was abandoned in the street Antonio de Mendoza in the community Los Virreyes.

The bodies had visible signs that the men  had been tortured. The bodies were found with their hands tied, some of them were nude, severely beaten and their faces covered with brown tape, all signs of organized crime.

The day of the event the participants said that once the assailants fled the scene, about a minute later a unit of the PF drove by but failed to stop when they were flagged down.

Subsequently, the Federal Police (PF) reported the arrest of two alleged perpetrators of the attack in the El Señor de la Misericordia Church, thanks to information provided by a witness.

PF spokesman, Jose Ramon Salinas Frias, reported that hours after the abduction of the bridegroom and his godfathers an arrest of two people was achieved.

"We have a possible witness under detention. Because of what that witness we have made two arrests, who are the potential perpetrators," he said.

4 bodies found; groom's family waits

The bodies of four men were found in the bed of a pickup in Juárez on Monday afternoon, creating speculation they could be last week's victims of a kidnapping during a wedding.

The groom, Rafael Morales, his brother Jaime Morales and their uncle Guadalupe Morales have been missing since being abducted by gunmen during a church wedding Friday evening in Juárez.

Family members said the men are U.S. citizens from La Mesa, N.M., halfway between El Paso and Las Cruces. Because the case involves U.S. citizens, the FBI has offered to help Mexican investigators.

Chihuahua state police officials said the bodies of four men were found in east Juárez in the covered bed of a Toyota Tacoma with Texas license plates.

Police officials said the men had not been identified, but three of them had on dress-style pants. One man wore a black shirt, one wore a pink shirt and one had a white tank top. The fourth man had on bluejeans and a pink-and-white polo shirt.

All had their faces covered with tape and bruises throughout their bodies. The cause of death has not been determined.

Members of the Morales family contacted briefly on Monday said they did not know why their relatives were targeted.

The kidnapping took place as the newlyweds prepared to exit the Señor de La Misericordia church. The attackers arrived and ordered everyone to get down to the ground, said the groom's father who is also named Rafael Morales. He was also at the wedding.

"They never asked for any money," Morales said. "That's what I don't understand."

Another man, Alonso Sotelo Corral, was shot twice and killed in the parking lot outside the church as he ran away or interfered during the kidnapping.

FBI officials in El Paso said they are in contact with the family on the U.S. side and confirmed there had been no ransom demand.

"Since it all happened in Mexico, we are a little limited in what we can do," said Special Agent Andrea Simmons, an FBI spokeswoman. "We don't know what the motivation is."

Since 2008 when murders began to skyrocket, nearly 5,150 people have been killed in the Juárez area. This year, more than 900 people have been murdered.

In other news, Mexican federal police on Monday rescued a kidnapping victim and arrested five members of a Juárez kidnapping ring known as "La Trokita," the little truck, named after an auto garage used by the ring, officials said.

Police arrested suspected ringleader Rafael "El Niño" Mendez Torres along with Sergio "El Bolo" Bernal Granados, 34; Vicente Balderas Balderas, 39; Cesar Adrian "El Pato" Aranda Aguilera, 22; and Víctor Hugo Garcia Martinez, 35.

During the arrest, police seized five vehicles, two handguns, two submachine guns and an AR-15 rifle along with other equipment. The ring is accused in the kidnapping for ransom four businessmen and two young people.

Source: El Paso Times
Groom kidnapped from Juárez church has ties to La Mesa


Family members confirmed Monday that the kidnapped groom Rafael Morales, and his brother and uncle, Jaime and Guadalupe Morales are U.S. citizens living in La Mesa, N.M.

Mexican officials said this morning the victims were from Namiquipa, a small town west of Chihuahua City.

Original story:

A groom kidnapped by gunmen during a wedding at a Juárez church is reportedly from a small community in New Mexico.

The kidnapped groom, Rafael Morales, is from La Mesa, located between El Paso and Las Cruces, Channel 9-KTSM (cable Channel 10) reported on Sunday.

Morales, his brother Jaime Morales and their uncle Guadalupe Morales were taken away after gunmen burst into the wedding ceremony on Friday evening at El Señor de la Misericordia Catholic church. The men remain missing.

Another man, identified by Chihuahua state police as 25-year-old Alonso Soteno Corral, was shot twice and killed in the parking lot outside the church after he reportedly tried to run or interfered in the kidnapping.

A motive for the kidnapping had not been disclosed but it comes as drug cartels have been warring for control of Juárez.

The Morales family could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Moments after the brazen kidnapping, family members were outraged at the inability of law enforcement to curb the city's crime wave and the lack of respect shown by criminals in breaching a religious service, according to numerous news accounts out of Juárez.

"The police don't do anything, the (expletive) soldiers don't do anything. They spend all day going in circles and where are they now," a woman at the ceremony complained to reporters. "... People are tired of this Juárez."

A family member told reporters the wedding took place in Juárez because that is where the bride wanted it and that the family was originally from Namiquipa in the central part of the state of Chihuahua.

The wedding kidnapping is believed to be one of the most brazen acts of violence to take place inside a church since the drug cartel war began in Juárez two years ago.

Mexico is heavily Roman Catholic and churches have traditionally been neutral ground during gang and underworld conflicts. But that has not made religious groups and services exempt in the current Juárez crime wave.

Gunmen have previously staged attacks at funerals and funeral homes. Some pastors have reportedly been targeted by extortionists. And earlier this year, a church was damaged in a failed arson attempt in the Valley of Juárez.

Source: El Paso Times

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