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

Friday, July 26, 2013

Captives In Hell

The phenomenon of missing people began to become evident beginning 2007 in areas disputed between organized crime groups and law enforcement.
By: Marcela Turati

“My brother disappeared when he was 19.  He worked as a carpenter in town and one day some of his friends told him to accompany them to take a truck to the mountains. Upon arriving there with the truck, they told them: ‘You are going to stay here to work’ and they gave them powerful weapons and trucks and made them look after the town.  They were under the command of a commander, among the people, killing.  They put them to kill.  But my brother never killed”

The testimony is from a young girl in Chihuahua.  It is not a story of those who whisper during family meetings dedicated in the search for one of their own—lost, kidnapped, or missing—those who realize that not all of those who are missing are dead, some are living, enslaved; this story contains data, names of towns, and descriptions of criminals.

“They arrived at houses and just like that they would point their weapons at them, they raped women.  They treated them very badly, they would go 15 days without bathing, they would give them only Maruchan (Instant noodles) to eat, they would steal from them, they would be armed, patrolling the town.”

-And how do you know that? –they asked.
-My brother would tell us.
-One day he managed to go to the top of the mountain and called my dad to say he was fine, but that they treated them badly.  One day he came home…He said that there was a shootout…he had escaped.
A Slow And Cruel Purgatory

The girl speaks softly but does not seem nervous.  It seems that she has a need to tell her story.  She is at a gathering of families across the country who are looking for one of their loved ones.  Here, she learned that her case is not alone, and she has promised to never stop looking for her big brother who returned from a hell and described it, but had to return to it once more, on his own, to save his family from being subjected to a purgatory; slow, cruel, and wild, in this life.

“When he escaped, they called my brother to tell him to return in order for them to not kill us.  My parents sent him to Chihuahua with an uncle, but he was worried.   He lasted a few days over there. He returned to the house, we believed to turn himself in, and immediately they came for him and took him to the mountains.  The last time we heard from him, was a day when he called us crying, saying that he didn’t want to be there, he couldn’t stand it, he saw things, that they committed a lot of crimes.  We’ve spent two years without any news from him.

The hell that she describes is that of a prison without bars.  A jail in the open; her brother lived with only youths, some recruited by force, others were there on their own will, in an abandoned house on the outskirts of town.  They took turns giving patrols and monitored so that no one would come to shoot them.  “They were the local police,” she says.

Soon after, human rights organizations began hearing the first reports of people being kidnapped from their homes and who were later seen alive.
Crazy Police

Those “policemen” were armed, they patrolled in stolen trucks, they had no rest hours, they ate what they could, they lived “crazily”, stimulated by marijuana or cocaine, and lived excessively often ending with a gunfight or killing each other.  They received no pay and couldn’t quit their jobs because their captors knew their families.

“From here there are many young people who Los Linieros (Members of La Línea, armed wing of the Juárez Cartel) have taken.  They take some of them to work in Cuauhtémoc, Guachochi, San Juanito, Creel, La Junta, Guadalupe and Calvo, Batopilas, to different places, or close nearby.  A few have escaped, but if they return, they are kidnapped.”

The agreement for this interview is not to reveal any information that may help in locating the informant, who now lives in another region of the country.  Although she says that there are many youths who are recruited by force, with the same story, anyone could’ve told it.

Still Alive

The possibility that some people who are considered missing are alive, working as slaves, is a certainty for many families who have been devoted into investigating the whereabouts of those missing and also for human rights organizations of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, the City of Mexico and Guanajuato; for migrant shelter staff and the Human Rights Commission of the Federal District (CDHDF), the bishop of Saltillo, Raúl Vera, and even the governor of Coahuila, Rubén Moreira
The reporter has confirmed that families contributed to the current holders of the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and the Secretariat of the Interior this data, that points to the existence of ranches, safe houses, and taverns where organized crime groups have them as slaves, mostly middle aged men.  Many are migrants.

The attorney Jesús Murillo Karam asked for time from the families in order to create a unit specializing in searching, which would have an area of intelligence and another area for force, to liberate the prisoners from the drug cartels in operations without any deaths.  The families are still waiting.

Raúl Vera is convinced that the missing persons are not dead: “There is very strong evidence that these people may be in concentration camps, where they are doing forced labor.  We’ve heard from people who say: ‘I escaped’ and they were in camps, being prepared to use weapons.  For migrants we know that they were kidnapped in safe houses.” 

Not all who are missing are dead, family members say convinced.
 Forced To Work

According to reports from civilian organizations, they are forced to work as hawks (Lookouts), hitmen, marijuana pickers, extortionists, tunnel construction workers, cleaning safe houses, feeding of the prisoners, sexual slavery, or installing communication equipment or even to act as policemen in the region where they were taken by drug traffickers.

“It is very likely that they are walking among us, free, but watched over because they have a job to do,” says Alberto Xicoténcatl, head of the Casa del Migrante de Saltillo (House for Migrants In Saltillo), a shelter to those who have become survivors of this tragedy that the PGR has called a "humanitarian crisis".

In Mexico, the preliminary report for missing persons in the past six years is 27,000 people, and the number is still increasing.

Juan López, attorney for United Forces for Our Disappeared in Mexico (FUNDEM) estimates that one-third of those who have been kidnapped may have been enslaved.

No One Answers

The phenomenon of the disappearance of people began to be evident since 2007 in areas disputed between organized crime groups and federal forces.  Soon, human rights organizations heard about the early accounts of people being forced from their homes and who were later seen alive.
One of these testimonies is that of the Mexican-American José Esparza Cháirez, of the U.S. Air Force, who told journalist Carmen Aristegui that after finding his three brothers who disappeared on January 2009 in Cuencamé, Durango, several people reported that they had been working as hitmen in that region, dressed in uniforms of the Federal Police.

Information such as that was hard to believe and advocates attributed them to the hope that their families had in finding their loved ones alive.  The theory was that the cartels would kill their victims soon after kidnapping them.  Over time, as more families began to group together and detect similar types of cases, the theory changed.

Blanca Martínez, director of the Human Rights Center “Fray Juan de Larios”, which covers the organization of relatives of FUNDEM (Fuerzas Unidas por Nuestros Desaparecidos) (United Forces for Our Disappeared) AND FUNDEC (Families of The Disappeared in Coahuila), created in 2009 in Coahuila, said: “It took us a while to get to the theory of forced labor.  We were very careful to not encourage a utopia.  We knew that the families, in their grief, would cling to any hope, but then we had some evidence that it’s possible.” 
The hell that relatives from those missing describe is that of a prison without bars.
They Lose Everything, Including Their Personality

The attorney, Juan López says that although some have known about people “appearing” in other states, they haven’t been able to interview any of them: “The people who have escaped are left broken, psychologically broken.  They know that they’ve appeared but are not sure where they are.  The experience of reaching their homes is crushing, having to take their belongings and flee.  They force themselves to disappear and start a new life far away.”

The priest Pedro Pantoja, founder of the Casa del Migrante de Saltillo, who including himself has dealt with the survivors of that hell: “They arrive skinny, abused, terrified because they would have them ‘working’.  They are not always able to speak, and if they are able to they do it in terror of what they lived through in those hotels, warehouses or stores or wherever they had them, where they saw the police arrive.  Some were tortured, while others would arrive almost with a loss of personality.”
Such is the trauma of these men and women, who in their duty, had to create a mental health area to serve them.

The human rights organizations in the country reported that most of those missing in areas disputed by drug cartels are men of working age (19-35 years old) and many of them had a specialized job.  One example is that of the 12 telecommunication antennae technicians who went missing, 10 of them in Tamaulipas and two in Coahuila.

“Among those who we are looking for are engineers, and you think about it when you see when they’ve discovered a so called “narcotunnel” with the work of an engineer.  There are also veterinarians, construction workers, and several others with skills that make them capable of working in a large company such as organized crime” says Blanca Martinez.  

They Cover the Necessity of Criminals

Alfonso and Lucía, parents of the systems engineer Alejandro Moreno Baca, who disappeared on January 27, 2011, after passing a booth in Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo León going to Texas, share the assumptions of many families: “They (the criminals) need all kinds of people to operate machinery.  It’s logical.  They need doctors, nurses, engineers, laborers, construction workers, so they take them.”

The couple discovered that the crew of four car shops disappeared along the same stretch of highway.  But it wasn’t until August 2011, after two federal police officers were beheaded in the area, that the Army and the Federal Police conducted raids in those municipalities in Nuevo Leon bordering Tamaulipas and found a camp where they trained some 200 future hitmen, ranches occupied by Los Zetas, 38 antennas in Escobedo and 43 repeaters in Saltillo.  They had a gunfight in El Vallecillo where 20 hitmen were killed and 40 escaped.

While he shows that news, Alfonso Moreno thinks over: “Someone has to be operating those antennas that are used by organized crime, we don’t know if that’s where they bring the youths, forced to work, or if they forced my son to be a hitman and he’s one of those who managed to escape.”

On the past June 5th, after months of interviews with relatives of FUNDEC, the governor Rubén Moreira, who has acknowledged that in his state, there have been 2,000 disappearances, and that his government is also looking for those who might be living.  Against the national logic, he is not just looking for remains.

Nobody dares to say “I was missing” for fear of their perpetrators, who themselves are protected.
They Recruit Young Men and Women

The signs are evident throughout the country.  In Mexico City, Carlos Cruz, director of the Citizen Course organization, which accompanies youths at risk, reports that on the Protection of Minors (He witholds the location for safety) found a group of adolescents aged 15 who were kidnapped from their neighborhoods in Nuevo Leon and for 90 days they were taken from town to town to end up in a weapons training camp of Los Zetas.

The advocate Malú García, of the Chihuahuan organization Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa A.C. (May our Daughters Return Home, Civil Association) says that from 2008 when the Army and the Federal Police occupied Ciudad Juarez, members of the gang Los Aztecas, diminished “narcomenudeos” (narco stews), and devoted themselves in the trafficking of women.  At least 30 have disappeared and the organization presumes that as long as there is a business, they will keep them alive.

Teresa Ulloa, director of the Coalition Against The Trafficking of Women and Girls In Latin America and The Caribbean said that in all of the disputed cartel regions, disappearances of young women occur who are likely to be used as sex slaves for their bosses or for their troops.

A human rights advocate, who asked not to be identified, remembers the testimony of a survivor from a prison in Tamaulipas, “He says that they gave them trucks and weapons and put them in charge of charging quotas.  He had to turn in a monthly amount of money and make it on his own.  So then they would extort everyone and force the gas stations to fill up their tanks.  Even though they had trucks and weapons, they were not free.  They were in an open prison and had to pay a fee to the mayor and to the police.  The people considered them to be part of the bad guys, but how could they escape?”

 An advocate from Chihuahua, consulted for this report, mentioned that they had received news about youths being forced to work in picking vegetables in Sinaloa.  Right there they were taken prisoner and forced to grow marijuana.  Few have the opportunity to escape in those camps being guarded by armed men.

Another advocate who asked not to be identified, cites the story of a person who in order to find his son, disguised himself and entered a warehouse on the outskirts of a city, also located in the north, and saw people crammed inside (more than 200).  He heard their cries, the air smelled of urine, feces, and sweat.  He was left traumatized.
With family members missing or dead, one is the plea.
Testimonies like these are received increasingly more often by human rights organizations, but nobody dares to say “I was missing” for fear of their perpetrators, who themselves are protected.

Source: Proceso #1914 Page 17-20


  1. We need a revolution start a nee government with out corruption and eliminate all cartels we need to do wat egypt did union ase la fuerza

  2. it seems all the cartels are in on it...even cds the so called good cartel.

  3. That is the horrible reality.

  4. Mexico will become a narco state.
    That's all there's to it.

  5. scared in USA this is a part of the life my family lives with. my father was a very skilled builder of block houses. when the cartel arrived at 4 am and did the things to my mother and sisters and the beatings they gave my father and they made him watch and listen while cartel men with his wife and daughters. we have reports that he still lives and now uses his construction skills so that we his surviving family will be left alone. we love you papa
    via con dios.

  6. Chivis ud que cuida a los ninos, que piensa de este incidente donde los funcionarios no tienen el valor para enfrentar a los narcos pero si para avergonzar a los ninos indefensos

  7. Egypt is a farce! Eventually the military will install the right person to become the President. That person will win the election and become the puppet of the U.S.A. just like Mubarak was, with the intention of controlling the most populous Arab country. Our tax dollars have been doing that to the tune of $2bd per year. After all, we have to assure the security of Israel, the recipient of $3bd of our tax dollars yearly. We run the show in the Middle East, just like the cartels run the show in MX. THANKS TO THE FREAKING CORRUPT BUREAUCRATS, THOSE BASTERD CRIMINALS ARE ENSLAVING THE INNOCENT YOUTH OF MÉXICO!!!

  8. este es el video si es que no se lo puse chivis:

    el nino era un indigena de chiapas que habia ido con su tia en tabasco para trabajar y ahorrar asi para sus cuadernos

  9. Yes! I saw the little boy humiliated and bullied by those corrupt pieces of shit. over a dozen people have sent me the video. I saw it yesterday and was so angry. Poor little guy, just earning money for school supplies. If anyone knows how to reach the family please let me know....and yes it broke my heart. he is 11:28 being raised by his grandparents but spends summer with his aunt to earn money to go to school and school supplies etc.

    here is another video of him:
    sinembargo has the article and video

    1. Is there a charity that could collect money or supplies and get it to these schools so these kids do not have to be put in this position?

  10. Freedom is not free,you can go back hundreds of years and in many countries people had died by the millions to have freedom and justice,in Mexico the people can have peaceful protests every day,newsflash that has not and will never work,the only thing that will work is massive uprisings leading to a full out revolution,where corrupt politicians and criminals will be hunged from street light poles,there is no other solution....

  11. Good people get enslaved and get killed because druggies over here wanna get high!!!!!!

  12. Sad , Mexico has become what it is.

    Seems like there is so much rape in Mexico.

    Raping village women , Raping immigrants,

    Mexico is a failed state in regards to eradicating the dog shit criminals & corruption.

  13. That is an awful story

  14. Fueled and funded by USA hunger for drugs.

  15. If they really want to torture innocent minds make them sit through an Adam sandler movie. They will be insane by the end. They won't want to live anymore.
    All cartels must die

  16. July 27, 2013 at 10:16 AM
    Mr,i aint got a fuckin clue what you gibbering about.
    Are you a frog?

  17. And check your statistics, European demand for drugs now exceeds the US. You're just another uninformed moron.

    Brother,your falling into that pricks ideas saying that,hes just another racist prick hatin on the US as usual

  18. Yea its not our fault Mexico fucking sucks and shits on their own ppl. Here's a phone call the waaaaambulance.

  19. Great job on this article! I really think there is a lot more slave labor on this planet than people would like to believe. I really wonder if more like 50% of the missing are being trafficked or used as sex slaves and who even knows what else. I really believe there is a huge international underground network that moves these people around and fills orders. I also think a lot of the people in power know about it, so it will go on and on. I'm so glad you did this article drawing some attention to it. I think it's in every country. We are in dark days, and this is just one example of what has this world in the situation it is in.

  20. You can't blame the United States for what's taking place in Mexico.

    1. You can't blame Mexico for what's taking place in the U.S. either. Whether it's the drug addiction problem of the U.S. or the illegals taking "our jobs".

    2. Its ok. The illegals are about to get hoodwinked here. The immigration bill lets them be here temporary & pay taxes, but Obamacare does not mandate that they get healthcare. So all those medicaid babies are going to lose coverage because now daddy/mommy show income & all they're getting is a tax bill & being tracked by the govt. Say bye bye foodstamps. The illegals are about to get their bell rung. They think this is going to be the big bonanza, but in reality they will finally see they can't afford to live here. Just sit back & watch...

    3. Yah, see that's the would prefer to get hoodwinked and then figure it would too late than look into the details. This law isn't about embracing illegals, its about big busines getting over on all of us and the govt giving out less while taking in more taxes. It's all about the money being made off the backs of people who aren't willing to question why there is a sudden push for this law. So yah, i'm the big raging racist because I am telling it as it stands today. I mean really, who can go live someplace temporary for years & years, paying high taxes on low wages with the cost of everything rising and make it. Is no one paying attention? Being here will no longer be the big bank scenario its been. I didn't make the law and stating this doesn't make me a racist.

  21. Finally figured out how one can blame the U.S. for Mexico's problems ...... The U.S. should have annexed Mexico in 1846-1848 after the Mexican war. Instead of making a deal with the Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna for the land successions . It is taught in Mexico that the dictator was not authorized to give/sell any land or territory of Mexico.

  22. I'm pretty sure he meant the U.S. as in everybody here, you think he meant "white man" because YOU think the U.S. Is supposed to mean just white people. You're being irrational. When you look at the statistics you provided, you say the 2010 census shows AMERICANS (U.S. Citizens) aged 5 and under are Hispanic and by 2033 most young adults will be Hispanic...1) if the Hispanic community is growing in numbers it means any statistic about Hispanics will grow along with their numbers of residents in the U.S. (use your head). 2)If most kids 5 and under are already Hispanics, in 20 years those kids will have grown up to be adults by then. DUH. Also before you call someone illiterate, touch up on your grammar and word placement. It's "they're going to make legal" not "they gonna make legal". Europe has the Russians and Italians to blame and the Americas have Mexicans to blame that's why you don't hear "CDS hitmen kill 40 in London". You even say "Americans are stupid" don't like the country anymore? Leave.

  23. It's you're. If you don't like this website then leave it just like you're instructing him to leave the country.

  24. BTW, 16 million is only about 15% of Mexico's population. Not 30%.

  25. C'mon i have so much respect for hard working Mexicans dont go the trayvon Martin way waaaaa waaaa waaaa im black the system owes me because im a useless thug waaa. Blame the cartels and all their shitty ppl raping women and killing ppl. If u really want to see change write a letter to your congressman . That's all we private citizens can do. Dont spout off and blame the system that dont do shit. Besides make u look like a pussy

  26. ....and yet the government of Obama and Eric Holder saw fit to arm the cartels for the larger goal of confiscating weapons of law abiding Americans.
    Obama has done nothing for Mexico. What a shame.

    1. Exactly. So why wouldn't every Mexican question the motives behind anything Obama 'does for them'. Is he screwing them on one side of the border but not on this side. Wake UP people! This is your life, question what is going on. Stop assuming O is doing any single thing to benefit you. Question everything, take nothing at face value. Please..


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