Two teenage boys, 15 and 16, among six suspects arrested over the kidnapping and murder of six teens, who were killed at a ranch – as lone survivor is seen hospitalized with blood clots in his head
Two boys, aged 14 and 15, are among suspects arrested in connection with the kidnapping and murder of a group of teenagers from a farm in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas.
The sole survivor, Sergio Acevedo, 18, and the fatalities, Diego Rodríguez, 17; Jorge Ocon, 14 and his cousin Héctor Salcedo, 14; Gumaro Santacruz, 18; Oscar Rojas, 15; and Jesús Rodríguez, 18, were on Wednesday in a remote area in the community of Casablanca, just outside Zacatecas’ border with Jalisco state.
The farm where the teens were kidnapped is owned by Salcedo’s parents and is located ten miles away in the town of Malpaso.
The two teenage boys, whose names have not been released, are residents of Durango State and were taken into custody on Tuesday.
Security forces were conducting a surveillance flight in search of the kidnapped teenagers when they spotted the two suspects with military weapons in the municipality of Jerez.
Witnesses described the teenage suspects as part of the armed group that invaded the building around 4 a.m. on Sunday. The ranch is just 1,600 meters away from a regional public safety station.
“We have a recognition procedure in which witnesses acknowledge that they may be part of the armed group that took the victims, evidence that has been sufficient to obtain an arrest warrant against them for the crime of aggravated kidnapping,” said Attorney General of Zacatecas, Francisco Murillo. Thursday evening at a press conference.
Custody of both teenage suspects was transferred to the Mexican Attorney General’s Office.
Sergio Acevedo is the only teenager to survive after he and six of his friends were kidnapped from a farm in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas on Sunday. According to his mother, the 18-year-old is still in hospital and has been treated for blood clots in his head
Two teenage boys, ages 14 (left) and 15 (right), were arrested Tuesday in Zacatecas, Mexico, a day before authorities found the bodies of six dead teens and a survivor kidnapped from a ranch by a cartel on Sunday.
Six teenagers were found dead on a farm in Zacatecas on Wednesday, just three days after they were kidnapped. In the photo top row from left to right: Diego Rodríguez, Jorge Ocon and Héctor Salcedo. In the photo bottom row from left to right: Gumaro Santacruz, Oscar Rojas and Jesús Rodríguez
The seven teenagers were kidnapped from a farm in Malpaso, a community in the municipality of Villanueva in central Mexico, and left at another farm in Casa Blanca, where they were beaten and killed. An 18-year-old survived the attack and is currently in hospital
The parents of one of the victims said the kidnappers contacted them looking for money, but no exchange ever took place, according to El País. They also received videos showing the teens walking barefoot on the remote ranch where authorities say they were beaten and killed.
Oscar Aparicio, deputy secretary of public security for the state of Zacatecas, said they were able to determine the teenagers’ whereabouts when police chased a pickup truck in the town of Laurel on Tuesday and discovered two people who had also been kidnapped from the ranch.
Aparicio said the operation was crucial in helping authorities determine where the kidnapped teenagers were being held.
At least two of the suspects reportedly provided information that helped police find the victims.
A third suspect, an adult male, was taken into custody Thursday in the Villanueva community of La Quemada, near the Malpaso neighborhood, where the kidnapping was reported.
Sergio Acevedo told his mother from his hospital bed that he had done nothing wrong that would warrant his kidnapping from a ranch
Law enforcement sources said the teenagers were kidnapped by the Sinaloa cartel, which is at war with rivals over control of federal highway 54 that connects Jalisco to the Pacific Ocean, according to news channel Reforma.
However, none of the officials mentioned the involvement of the infamous cartel during the press conference.
Acevedo remained in hospital in Zacatecas on Friday and is in stable condition.
His mother, Karla Rodríguez, told Mexican news network Milenio that doctors had discovered two blood clots in his head.
“Maybe they will operate on him, he also had cuts on his arms,” she said.
The concerned mother said Acevedo knows who she is even though he has been kept sedated.
“He has no concept of time right now, maybe it’s because of the abuse, I don’t know,” Rodríguez said. “He said he’s not up to any bad things, he said, ‘I haven’t done anything bad.’ I told him, ‘I know, son, I know.’
A service was held Thursday afternoon for Jesús Rodríguez, an 18-year-old who was kidnapped by a cartel along with five other teenage friends on Sunday and found dead on a farm in Zacatecas, Mexico on Wednesday.
Security forces inspect the farm area where the bodies of six teenagers and a survivor were found on Wednesday
A plan had originally been made for a joint funeral service for all six victims before the families decided to hold them separately, except for Ocon and Salcedo.
Funeral and burial services were held for all six victims on Thursday afternoon.
Lawmakers in Zacatecas, where 720 murders were recorded in the first eight months of 2023, held a special session on Thursday and called for the resignation of Governor David Monreal.
The state is among Mexico’s most violent, where rival criminal gangs regularly clash over lucrative smuggling routes.
According to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, a total of 1,432 homicides (1,261 men, including 621 under 30 years old) were reported in 2021.
Monreal told reporters that kidnappings are a strategy used by cartels in their turf wars with rivals and that victims are released if they find they are not being targeted.
“It’s a kind of modus operandi, sometimes like a dispute over territory, where those from one cartel overpower another cartel,” he said.