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

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Terror in Coahuila: Up to 300 disappeared in Mexico’s forgotten massacre

Borderland Beat posted by DD
This story from Aljazeera was posted on BB Forum yesterday by Bjeff.

DD: Most of the basic facts in this story has been presented here on BB in the past, but I am posting it here because I think it important to keep reminding the public and main stream media of the scope of the problem and that the "missing 43" that has gotten so much media attention is only the tip of the iceberg.

Aljazeera editor's note:  Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series, “Terror in Coahuila.” In light of the 43 Mexican students who went missing in the southern state of Guerrero last year, Al Jazeera is investigating earlier atrocities that occurred in the northern state of Coahuila but escaped the world’s attention. Part two of this series explores links between the region’s vast energy reserves and its so-called drug war, and part three will look at how violence and corruption in the state’s prisons mirrored what was happening on the streets.   

By  Ignacio Alvarado Álvarez
on average six kidnapping happen every day!
 SALTILLO, Mexico — Anita had just returned from a chemotherapy session in Monterrey, an hourlong bus ride away, after waiting two hours for her pain to subside after the radiation. The following morning, another difficult journey awaited her. She and several other mothers were meeting with Rubén Moreira, the governor of the northern state of Coahuila, to discuss the case of their missing children.

“I’m a strong woman. I have to be strong and keep going until I die because I want to find my son,” Anita said while slowly eating a bowl of vegetable soup at a local restaurant. The temperature at the eatery was pleasant, but Anita remained bundled up in her coat and a winter hat to cover her head, bald from the chemotherapy. “I’m a bit cold, but it doesn’t matter. The heart is colder when you’re missing a son.”

After 43 poor students from Ayotzinapa Normal School, a teachers’ training college in Mexico’s southern state of Guerrero, went missing in September, mass demonstrations across the country called for their return. Police abducted the 43 students and handed them over to a drug cartel to be executed. The killings were allegedly ordered by Iguala Mayor José Luis Abarca, according to a series of confessions.

Besides unleashing a scandal of immense proportions, the case of the 43 missing students highlights the need to review the long list of victims of the war among drug cartels, which is most severe in northern states like Coahuila.

While the 43 Ayotzinapa students captured headlines around the world, atrocities in Coahuila two years earlier went virtually ignored — confined to oblivion by an information vacuum created by fear, impunity and government intimidation. Like Iguala, the violence in Coahuila is marked by collusion between authorities and criminal groups such that victims and residents are never quite clear who the perpetrators are. They are left with a sense of enormous complicity.

José Willibardo, 20, Anita’s younger son, was violently abducted from their home on March 5, 2012. The gunmen who took him carried high-caliber arms and were guarded by local police. The testimony offered by one of José’s older brothers, Luis Ángel, and two of his sisters-in-law states that José was dragged from his bedroom to a pickup truck that whisked him away.

“He is a good boy. He’s 20 years old but has the body of a 15-year-old,” said Anita. “But he wasn’t a coward like the people who took him.” She said the gunmen were merciless with José, who had no criminal record, because he refused to work for them as a hired assassin or kidnapper. She identified the man who directed the beating as one of José’s childhood friends from Allende, a 20-minute drive from Eagle Pass, Texas.

The gunmen also abducted Luis Ángel. His pregnant wife told authorities that the gunmen handcuffed him and beat him unconscious before placing him in a second waiting car. The kidnappers then sped away.
Luis Ángel returned alive. The same police officers who supervised his kidnapping took him home, according to Anita, his legs and torso covered in burns, his ribs broken, his face disfigured. “Instead of tears, he was crying blood,” she said.

His captors covered him in diesel fuel and lit him on fire after torturing him, Luis Ángel told his family. His mother bombarded him with distressed questions. “Please don’t look for Wily any longer,” he told her. “He’s dead.”

José’s body has not been found.

The Zetas, a criminal enterprise originally formed by deserters from the Mexican army in the early 2000s, violently penetrated Coahuila in 2009, imposing a reign of terror through extortion, kidnapping, torture, disappearance and murder of civilians. Meanwhile, no government authority confronted them, explaining the violence as a war among cartels being waged for control of the border.

In March and April of 2011, the Zetas kept the northern municipalities of Allende, Piedras Negras, Nava, Zaragoza and Morelos — all close to the U.S. border — under constant attack. They fired their arms, set fire to several businesses and disappeared at least 300 people, according to testimony from residents. Gang members operated without a trace of military or civic intervention.

The majority of these cases happened in Allende, so that time referred to as the Allende Massacre.
Local media, fearing reprisals, did not report the violence until years later. Armando Castilla, the publisher of the newspaper Vanguardia de Coahuila, says his publication was the first to report the case, in December 2013. In April of 2014, Allende’s Mayor Luis Reynaldo Tapia Valadez told the national outlet La Jornada,

“There are approximately 300 [victims], but it’s not out of the question that there are a few more.”
It wasn’t until January 2014 that the Coahuila government launched a formal investigation into the case. In December the state’s attorney general, Homero Ramos Gloria, said the investigation found evidence of only 28 disappearances, not 300. The state says it does not know the status of another 1,808 missing people.
Coahuila authorities blamed the killings on Zetas leaders Heriberto Lazcano and Miguel Ángel Treviño, known as Z-40, who allegedly carried out the attacks with his followers as revenge against Héctor Moreno and José Luis Gaytán Garza, former Zetas collaborators who testified against the group and benefited from the U.S. witness protection program. Zetas killed several of Gaytán Garza’s and Moreno’s family members and former employers.

But as with much of the violence in Mexico in recent years, police, military and civilian officials are often closely involved in the forced disappearances, kidnappings, torture and killing of thousands of citizens.
“There is no doubt that you could camouflage an attack by some politician as an assault by organized crime,” said Castilla. “And the blame was always going to be placed on the criminals.”

A girl arranges photographs of missing people at an altar during an event to commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances in Saltillo.
Daniel Becerril / Reuters / Landov
The official number of 1,808 disappeared in Coahuila is a hair-raising figure, more so because the majority of cases occurred in four years, since 2009. The real figure is unknown, but it likely far exceeds the official number, said Jorge Verástegui, founder of United Front for Coahuila’s Disappeared, or Fundec.

“What I can say with certainty is that, in all the cases, the disappearances occurred with the consent or participation of some element of the state,” said Verástegui.

Bishop Raúl Vera represents Coahuila’s strongest voice against corruption, which he railed against as bishop of Guerrero state — where the Ayotzinapa students went missing — until 1994. For years he has pointed to the collusion between government authorities and organized crime.

“These disappearances in Coahuila are committed by police,” he said. “I can’t explain exactly why people disappear here, but a lot of it has to do with money. But above all, it's due to police conspiracies.”

 Information vacuum

During the first national march organized to protest the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students, an estimated 2,000 people took to the streets of Saltillo — the biggest protest in the city’s history.
Verástegui thinks the large turnout is a result of the intense media scrutiny raised by the Ayotzinapa case.

“It’s great to see people express themselves, but here there are more than 2,000 disappeared, and nobody seems to be aware of it,” he said at a march in early December protesting the second anniversary of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s inauguration.

As students and rights activists called for the president’s resignation and for information on the whereabouts of the 43 missing students, not a single voice could be heard calling for justice for Coahuila’s disappeared or the governor’s resignation.

Vera agrees that an information vacuum helped keep the Coahuila disappearances hidden from the national consciousness, unlike the Iguala case. But he says there is another fundamental factor: The Iguala victims are students, and the government could not tie them to organized crime or guerrilla groups. In Coahuila that was a constant. Authorities not only were implicated in the disappearances but also discouraged any form of official complaint.

“If someone went to the public ministry to lodge a complaint, he was told, ‘Why the complaint? That probably happened because you were involved with organized crime,’” said Ariana García, a family counselor in Piedras Negras. “There was an implicit threat in that and a criminalization of the victim.”

In the restaurant, Anita said she was diagnosed with to breast cancer three months ago. Her doctor told her that the profound pain and anguish of losing her son may have contributed to her health woes.

Her son Luis Ángel was detained by police in July after being violently abducted from home and taken to a municipal jail, where he was tortured. This time, Anita immediately called a lawyer, which she believes saved his life.

“There was no investigation this time, just as there is no effort to find my younger son,” she said. “The government just hopes I die, that the cancer kills me, so as to bury my son’s case.”
-This article was translated from Spanish by Alfonso Serrano


  1. Why is everybody upset with missing people. It happens all the time, Here in Tamps. Family member disappeared we have never hear from him. Many hundreds die no government officals care, Pres, Nieto doesn't care. Its a way of life in Mexico if you live you lucky. So we have grown to except it and run to the US for safety If you can't you run are you will die. Hey UN where are you. Help Help falling death hears

  2. Put this on CNN or ABC , CBS, All Texas / U.S. primetime news !!!! Until then no one cares about filth and atrocities next door. In fact they will call BB a liar and call this media hype....... Really sad , because the numbers of souls are probably greater. Margaritas on the beach while Pedro's body lies flaccid and dissolves in acid. Yep , that's Mexico.

  3. People still does not understand that coahuila masacre was related to criminals, if innocent people died is because they hanged with criminals, there is still lots of people living in coah. In peace right now, because those are normal workers, regarding stortion i never have seen an small bussines been stortionated, and most ofthem were related to crimminals.

    1. B.S. housekeepers,gardeners were taken in that massacre,virtually anyone in those houses at the time including visiting guests.

    2. Didnt they know who their bosses were? They had plenty time to get better jobs, but guess what, they like to hang with them, bs is their behavior , believe me i am from coah...

    3. Some get killed because they like joining criminal groups to get the dirty money, some for Not accepting to work for/with them, some just because they might have one or a couple of 'family members' in criminal groups, and that is how innocents get killed sometimes for mixin with bad btches unknowingly. But im sure not all of them were saints, plenty of them probably were/had working/worked for a criminal group before. Or had some sort of a criminal tie, ever heard of... el que anda en la mierda algo se le pega.? well there you have it.

    4. Dude,do you believe none of the taken were innocent?You will know more about it but surely you don't deserve to lose your life for who you talk to?

    5. Your misguided in your thinking. I don't care if from Coah. The reason for the massacre of these individuals was in some cases as simple as having the
      same last name. Now if the marines had
      seized the money Hector Moreno, Jose Luis Garza, and Poncho Cuellar had stolen instead, I don't think the Zetas would've attacked the nearest Semar installation in order to recover the money. The gates of he'll would've been opened They would've been better off
      just taking the businesses and properties
      of these people in order to recover some
      of that money. It would've made better
      business sense. Nothing can justify the
      murder of innocent children, women, and men in Allende/Nava massacre. Not $5 mil. USD. Now the moment that ex-governor Bert Moreira's son Lalo gets killed, Lazcano himself is taken down. His governor uncle Pelon Moreira exacted eye for eye for his Zeta colluded ex-governor brother Bert. Now if you don't think there is two forms of justice in Coahuila depending on what your is, then you got another thing coming.

    6. There is still lots of Garza, Moreno and Cuellar living in five springs, are you cinic? Dude havr your skin in the game and come here to know reality, not all those last names were killed, is that that people still dont get, media always exacerbate this stories.

    7. Nobody here is saying that all of them were criminals! But the thing here is that some idiots when BB write about all those killings and dissapearences, they automatically believe that all of them were innocents. Like some perros pendejos in this section... Chingen su m.... imbeciles

    8. 5:59 That pendejo of 3:30 is talking to you.

    9. Whatever the names of the victims, the zetas did not finish offing everybody in the state and tearing down their houses...for one reason:
      --Z40 and z42 got too tired...
      --having impressed the BOSS MASSA Z3, and lacking manpower, they moved on because the motherfuckerzzz found it is not so easy handling so many victims, making the menudo, burying and disappearing the evidence...
      --They needed to leave some of that work to the "glorious bastards", the mexican army proven heros of a thousand massacres like Tlatlaya, Ayotzinapa...etc etc etc

    10. @1:01 because a few were guilty of sompim' it does not justify the indiscriminate mass murdering of an entire town's population.
      --I am not saying that it is better "better a thousand criminals walk free than one innocent spends one day in prison"
      --But who the hell made the "zetas" judge and party, and hanging judge, the executioneer?
      --do you mean shorty lazca forced HIS BRAND of criminality on the hairy and peludo asses of poor little zetas?

  4. my brothers in law were part of the missing,taken away and shot then taken to the piedras cereso to b "cooked"yes there are more than 300 not counting the ones the local judiciales also kill.

  5. 5:00 Wrong, mexico is not that, like that, or about that...
    The state is guilty of thousands of disappearances all over the country, including those the narcs in their employment carry out, and the state sponsors the suppression of the news to help the criminals to keep it up...
    --Mexico is not about corrupt politicians and their soldiers and police paid for by the US or about their crimes and genocide...

    1. What does the US gets out of all that? what if it was some other countries opposing the USA trying to distabilise the neighbor mx, so they can try to take over it and have it as base in case of w... Russia? Iran? I don't think the USA bennefits from mx loosing control of their own nation to criminal twisted rats...

    2. Some body should ask that Moreira pig what country helped him. It would be good to know. Was it the US?? Other Country?? or... the same mx with its own corruption??

    3. @11:40 the US people that fed me, sheltered me, and allowed me to have a life of privilege in the US, do not even know what many in their government are up to...
      -- having made money from their lofty positions, they have offshored it and are partners with the invading countries, they also shelter money and earnings offshore, in secret banks in secret accounts, safe from their innocent countrymen who may wake up and confiscate all their ill gotten gains...
      -- not that "you" have to understand any of it...

  6. "The iguala victims are students, and the government could not tie them to organized crime or guerilla groups..."
    --the propaganda bullshit is falling on its own weight, so if there is no there there, no organized crime or guerrilla ties, you have emilio chuayffet chemor, secretary of education who promised "Reforma educativa" by any means necessay and said the he will arrest those who dare oppose his "reforms" and put them en la carcel, chuayffet is also known as "la emilia" and the butcher of Acteal/Chenaló, and has been at it for about 20 years, killing for the state...

  7. 11:05 everybody is "upset" because the news are getting out just about now, after the governing mexican narco-mierdocracia fucked up 43 too many times...
    --also have very present that these murdering incidents are not being reported by pena nieto or regular news channels, and that the people reporting are putting their ass on the line, you could kiss it while you are at it...

  8. Anita,I hope you get well and find some tranquility in your life.
    We read and commented on this massacre and disappearance when police and authorities stood by and watched tractors destroy many many houses after the occupants had already been taken,the families and friends of the rats who ran,many of whom were not involved.Many many women of Mexico suffer this ?

    1. Anita is dead, she also has no more life left to find anything, she also died , Suicide...

    2. Sick twisted little man you are

  9. Whatever..innocents or not so innocent, I don't even think that applies to this situation. In fact, some no doubt were innocent, whoever they worked for! Sometimes people don't have many options to pick and choose from. If the man with the 'shady' lifestyle, has a lawn that needs landscaping...and "Mr. Good Guy" has nothing for you to do, you might not turn that work down with "Mr.Shady" might even be very thankful to have it! That is no reason to die, or to be killed.Lots and lots of very good, innocent ppl work for ppl, who aren't so innocent..that's life.

    1. Well well, if you were a landscaper would you do it for 100 usd if they woud tell you that you have to be inclose for 3 hours ? I bet you you would't, thats the point. Many people exerts that natural fear, and fear makes you survive.


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