News USA Four bodies found in Zacatecas near where three Mexican women and an...

Four bodies found in Zacatecas near where three Mexican women and an American disappeared at Christmas

Relatives and friends of the four disappeared people, demonstrate to demand their location, in Guadalajara, on January 2.Fernando Carranza Garcia (Dark Room)

The Zacatecas Attorney General’s Office reported this Thursday the discovery of four remains of human bodies, three women and one man, in a clandestine grave at Rancho Monte de la Presa Vieja, in the El Cuidado community. This small town is accessed from Viboras, the municipality where Irma Parola Vargas, Jose Melesio Gutierrez and the sisters Daniela and Viviana Marquez were last located. The four disappeared on the night of December 25 when they were returning together to Colotlan, the Jalisco town where the three women lived. Gutierrez, a US national, was there spending the holidays with his fiancee Daniela and her family. They planned to get married in October.

The report from the Prosecutor’s Office, to which this newspaper has had access, specifies that the bodies have been found in a state of “skeletal reduction”, for which reason genetic analysis will be required to determine their identity. This Monday, the investigation personnel, with the support of the federal forces, found in El Cuidado two vehicles with bullet holes and a lifeless body reduced to the bones, which corresponds to a man between 20 and 35 years old, still without identify. One of the cars was the one in which the four disappeared on the night of December 25 were transported. The agents continued to search the area this Tuesday until they found the grave in which the other four bodies were.

The lives of the relatives of the disappeared were turned upside down on December 25, when Daniel Marquez received a message from his daughter Daniela with the location of his mobile. So he was on highway 23, which connects Jerez de Garcia, the town where they had spent the afternoon, with Colotlan, on the other side of the border, in Jalisco. Parents went on alert when the phone’s location drifted off the road. “I didn’t read the messages, and when we started calling everyone who was in the car, no one answered,” Marquez told EL PAIS days after the disappearance. They tried to approach the area, but the police told them that “it was very dangerous” and they had to wait until the afternoon of the following day, after filing the complaint, to go. “My brother, Paola’s father and I got together, and we went. But there was nothing, it was a desolate area,” said Marquez.

Federal highway 23, which connects Jalisco with Zacatecas, is besieged by the violence of organized crime. The inhabitants of the municipalities on both sides of the border live in constant fear that night will fall before they have returned to the precarious safety of their homes. And the fear they have is far from irrational. In the last month of 2022, eight people have disappeared in that border area, according to the newspaper The universal: Jose Guadalupe Gallegos (December 1), Arol Sanchez (December 4), Ernesto Sanchez and Jose de Jesus Valdez (December 10), Daniel Fernandez and Manuel Banuelos (December 21), Andres Correa (December 28) and Jorge Meza (December 31). The National Registry of Missing and Disappeared Persons reveals that last year 60 people disappeared in 11 bordering municipalities between Jalisco and Zacatecas.

The local newspapers and the inhabitants of this region point to an explanation that hardly impresses anyone anymore: the alleged battles between drug traffickers. Specifically, between the Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel, because that area connects directly with the States of Durango, Nayarit, Jalisco, San Luis Potosi and Coahuila. Drug blockades have also been reported on the highways and the National Guard dismantled six organized crime camps distributed throughout Zacatecas last September. In the camp they found in Tepetongo, the region where the four youths have disappeared, the security forces found more than 600 bullet cartridges of various calibers.

For all this, when the relatives of the disappeared called a demonstration, Colotlan took to the streets. They moved to the capital of Jalisco, Guadalajara, to march to the Glorieta de las y los Desaparecidos. There they demanded that the governor do something to stop the violence in the north of the state. “Isn’t he a father? Does he not understand the pain we are experiencing? Please, Governor, do not let us down,” a woman yelled in front of the Government headquarters, according to a local newspaper. However, the governor of Jalisco, Enrique Alfaro, has denied responsibility, defending that the real problem is on the other side of the border, in Zacatecas. “There is already an operation deployed to support the search, but it is important that people know that it is a crime that took place in the State of Zacatecas,” he said regarding the disappearance of the young people.

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