Crime & Justice

Mexico nears a grim milestone of 100,000 missing people

By Mariana Gonzalez-Marquez

Guadalajara, Mexico, Mar 31 (EFE).- Nearly 100,000 people have been officially registered as missing in Mexico, a crisis the authorities are making efforts to resolve.

For almost eight years, Gerardo Preciado Torres’ family has been searching for him after four people claiming to be agents from Jalisco state prosecutor’s office beat and apprehended him without a warrant or an explanation on May 22, 2014.

That day changed the life of his mother, Maria Refugio Torres, who had to learn about the law, criminology, forensic science and psychological support to follow up on her son’s case, as well as hundreds of others in Jalisco.

“We must search, investigate and bring them information because they don’t do anything,” Torres tells Efe.

“When my son disappeared, I did trust the authorities and I said that they were going to return him to me.

“But they always hit me with the same thing: the investigation is underway,” she says.

Next to the altar she set up for her son, who would be 47 now, Torres explains she had to learn to defend herself from the negligence and humiliation of the authorities.

From 1964 to date, 98,423 people have disappeared in Mexico, according to the National Registry of Disappeared or Non-Located Persons, which updates the figures daily.

Jalisco has the largest number of missing and unidentified persons with 14,915 cases, followed by Tamaulipas with 11,916, Mexico City with 10,720 and Nuevo Leon with 6,148, according to data from the National Search Commission (CNB) of the Mexican interior ministry.

Adriana Carranza, 29, has since October 2021 been looking for her husband, Ruben Arreola Marroquin, 32, an employee of the University of Guadalajara.

Carranza tells Efe that she saw him for the last time when he left the house to argue with a neighbor who had hit his car.

That neighbor was arrested a few weeks later.

But his statement did not reveal information on the whereabouts of Arreola Marroquin, although the family had verified that both the cell phones of the husband and the neighbor made the same route from their neighborhood to an abandoned property in the municipality of Tlajomulco.

“The most difficult thing is not knowing how he is. If they are doing something to him, if he is okay, if he is eating, if they have already done something to him. (…) You write a thousand scenarios and every day they collapse,” says the young woman.

The crisis of the disappeared spiked in 2006, the year in which then-president Felipe Calderon launched a war on drug trafficking, and reached its peak in 2019. It has also brought issues along with it such as the forensic identification of bodies that are discovered.

Mexico has seen tragic cases like those of the 43 students at Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College who disappeared in 2014. Only three of them had their remains found and identified so far.

Denisse Ayala, a member of the Committee for Analysis of the Disappearance of Persons at the University of Guadalajara, explains to Efe that Mexico has a “subnational regime” in which the institutions, security agencies and laws apparently work, but organized crime manages to penetrate the authorities.

“There is a gray area where organized crime, agencies and the state converge, and they are not separate spheres,” she stresses. EFE


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