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

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

THE DISAPPEARED: Mexico's Vanishing Victims of the Drugwar

Few elements exemplifies the inaccuracies of drug death tallies more than taking in to account the “disappeared”.   It is perplexing why Mexico or human rights advocacy groups separate the missing into varied  groups thus leading to greater confusion.  This article highlights the figure at 5300, however it is known that economic migrants of Central America go missing at the rate of 10K plus per year.  In 2011 in the first six months the figure had surpassed 10K.  In the state of Coahuila the foundation FUUNEC founded for the purpose of advocacy for the missing, have placed pressure on the government to acknowledge and address the issue and today Rueben Moreira Governor of Coahuila revealed 1600 persons are known to be missing in the state.  Paz, Chivis
Alejandro Moreno
By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

The blue plastic envelope is packed with papers: security camera photos, cell phone records, business cards and letters asking for help.
"My folder, this is my son," Alfonso Moreno says.
The young man left Mexico City on a road trip to Texas last January. His parents say 33-year-old Alejandro, a computer systems engineer, vanished just an hour away from the U.S.-Mexico border.

They have been searching for him ever since.
On this day, a wood-paneled meeting room at a Mexico City peace foundation is the next step in their hunt. They sit at a table with parents of a street performer, a real estate agent and a group of gold salesmen
A year ago, they all were strangers. Now, they greet each other like old friends, with smiles and warm embraces.
A brutal drug war has brought them together.
Their children are among more than 5,300 people who have gone missing in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon began a crackdown on cartels five years ago, according to the country's National Human Rights Commission. Officials fear the total number could be far higher, because many disappearances go unreported.
The drug war's mounting death toll grabs international attention, but forced disappearances are one of the most troubling problems that Mexico faces, says Rodrigo Escobar Gil, a human rights representative for the Organization of American States.
As the number of cases grows, Moreno and other parents of the missing have become vocal members of the country's high-profile Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, which has staged nationwide protest marches demanding a new drug war strategy, better treatment of victims and greater efforts to find the missing.
Hope that their loved ones may be found alive fuels their fervor.
Moreno says he and his wife, like many who are frustrated by sluggish responses and scarce results from officials, felt forced to launch their own investigation. Their search for clues has taken them from the quiet confines of their gated community in Mexico's capital into some of the country's most dangerous areas.
Maria Herrera; four of her children have disappeared on gold buying trips
 "I have more than the authorities do," he says. "Unfortunately, organized crime is organized. Our authorities aren't."
Retracing the trail

This is what Alfonso Moreno knows: His son Alejandro climbed into a red Mazda 3 and left Mexico City at 7 a.m. on January 27, 2011. Late that night, he planned to reach Laredo, Texas, visit a friend and pick up a new computer.
Alejandro never made it to the border. He disappeared. So did his car.
But he left a trail. A systems engineer for IBM and lifelong technology lover, he sent regular updates throughout his journey, firing off text messages and posting details about his location on Foursquare and Facebook.
"I just passed the Tropic of Cancer," he wrote on Facebook as he drove through the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosi.
A few hours later, another status update compared rush hour in the northern industrial city of Monterrey with traffic jams in the nation's capital.
Just before 7:30 that night, his mother sent him a text message: "Where are you, son?"
"I'm in Monterrey," he replied.
At 8:55 p.m., he posted on Foursquare that he was at a toll booth 107 kilometers (about 65 miles) away from the industrial city, in the town of Sabinas Hidalgo.
Just after 9 p.m., he posted his location again. There was no message -- just his coordinates. His parents suspect he sent them when he spotted something suspicious along the highway.
He hasn't been heard from since.
Time and time again, Alfonso Moreno and his wife, Lucia Baca, have flown to Monterrey and retraced their son's path. But they can only go so far. Officials have warned them to stay out of nearby towns in the area, a stronghold of the Zetas drug cartel.
"I wanted to go looking for him," Moreno says, "but the authorities told me, 'No, if you go in, you won't come out.' "
This is what the father keeps in his blue folder: a grainy toll booth security camera photo that shows his son's hand, reaching out to pay 186 pesos in Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon. Business cards of lawmakers, journalists and human rights organizations who've listened to the family's story. Pictures and descriptions of others who disappeared the same way -- driving on highways near the northern city of Monterrey.
He knows their stories as well as his son's. Off the top of his head, he rattles off the dates they went missing.
This is what Alfonso Moreno said when he met their families: Go to the toll booths now, because they only save the security camera photos for two months.
A gowing problem
In October, Mexico's president said the "very high" number of missing people was a growing concern. He listed them among the victims of violence that he described as "open wounds" in Mexican society.
"We don't know the size of the problem," Calderon said during a speech inaugurating a new prosecutor's office aimed at helping victim
"There are different statistics," says Gil of the Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, "but what is certain is that this is a massive phenomenon in which a very high number of people are victims of this scourge. ... It consumes family and friends and the whole community with anguish and uncertainty."
Mexico's Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity has documented 600 recent cases of "forced disappearances" as demonstrators from the group travel across the country, protesting violence and collecting victims' stories.
The FUUNEC organization appeals to President Calderon
There are thousands more, says Valentina Peralta, who keeps track of information about victims' cases for the movement.
For every death reported, she hears of at least eight other disappearances. But fear stops many from turning to authorities for help.
"They tell us, 'We don't want to file a complaint, because they'll kill us,' " Peralta says.
Some who do go public have managed to wrangle meetings with Calderon and other top Mexican officials
"Thanks to the movement, doors have been opened," Moreno says. "We are no longer invisible victims."

Addendum to the CNN story:

In photo at left, a mother holds a photograph of her missing daughter.    The daughter left her home in Central America with the United States as her destination. It was in Mexico that she vanished. The 2000 mile perilous journey is one of the most dangerous in the world. An estimated 300,000 Central American economic migrants make the journey each year.                

Criminals and corrupt Mexican officials prey on the migrants. Gangs kidnap, exploit and murder migrants, who are often targeted in extortion schemes. 10 thousand go missing each year. The mother in the photograph was part of a 30 mother caravan from Central America who travelled to Mexico in search of their missing children and to encourage the Mexican government to implement an official search mechanism for finding missing migrants.
 The women , 28 from Honduras, four from Nicaragua and one from El Salvador , arrived by bus in Tenosique, a city in Mexico’s Tabasco state. Known as MMM, Mesoamerican Migrants Movement, their slogan is, ‘I follow your footprints with the hope of finding you.’


  1. Que dios los tenga en su gloria

  2. So fucking sad.He may not have been a bad guy,he may have been a good guy.People also overlook that he may have been the breadwinner for his family,they may have relied on his income.Mexico is so fucked up,i think something radical needs doing.People running around disappearing someone because he may have money.This dude worked for his money,you see what he was doing?He was driving in his car,making things happen,getting off his ass.And now look.Any people out there who drive long distances in Mexico,take a gun with you,defend yourself,they will kill you.You have nothing to lose if anything happens,they will kill you once they take you,so kill them fuckers first,at least you go out taking motherfuckers with you,instead of like a sheep.

  3. Yes except Mexicans can't "take a gun with them" when they travel. They have been disarmed by their own government/police. The Narcos never passed a law disarming the Mexicans. I would bet the Narcos would be happy to sell Mexicans guns they got from the US federal agencies. It is the Mexican government who enslaves, disarms, and makes helpless the Mexican peo-- oops, Sheep.

  4. DONT EVER DRIVE AT NIGHT IN A WAR ZONE¡ all the roads leading to the border from Monterrey are not secure at night, dont get paranoid but keep it in mind.he should had spent the night in the ciudad. .......Truchas amigos chilangos y surenos. Estos PENDEJOS no entienden que hay gente innocente. La cocaina te hace paranoico.

  5. why aren't their photos posted?...


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