Crime & Justice

Relatives of 16 security workers kidnapped in Mexico lift road blockade

(Update 1: Adds information and edits throughout, changes headline and lede)

Chiapa de Corzo, Mexico, June 29 (EFE).- Relatives and friends of the 16 Chiapas state security ministry workers kidnapped this week by an armed group lifted their blockade of a highway in the municipality of Chiapa de Corzo on Thursday.

The group ended their sit-in on the federal highway and withdrew without having obtained any new information regarding the rescue and location of their missing loved ones.

The withdrawal of the blockade was at the request of hundreds of carriers who had been stranded for almost 20 hours. Before the relatives withdrew, the drivers stood in solidarity with them and joined the cries of “Justice, justice!”

Hours earlier, the protesters called on the authorities to get to work so that they could be reunited with their relatives.

On Tuesday, 16 of Chiapas’ Ministry of Security and Civil Protection workers were taken by an armed group from the bus in which they were traveling in the municipality of Ocozocoautla, on the way to state capital Tuxtla Gutiérrez.

Two days later, the relatives intensified pressure by staging the blockade from 7 am (13:00 GMT) and put up signs with messages such as “We want the 16 kidnapped family members back.”

In 35-degree heat, they lined up and demanded justice, asking citizens to help them through social media so that negotiations can be expedited.

Kilometers from the blockade, another group remained at the doors of the offices of the state government secretariat waiting for news, however so far there has been nothing, said one of the people who preferred not to give her name.

“They are not helping us, they are not giving us a solution. Our relatives are still (out) there and we don’t know anything. They (the officials in charge) are apathetic, they do not come out, they do not show their faces,” she told EFE.

The situation intensified on Wednesday when the kidnappers published videos on social media in which they demanded that Chiapas Governor Rutilio Escandón fire the chiefs of the border police, Yahir Hernandez, and state police, Marco Antonio Burguete, as well as the undersecretary of public safety, Francisco Orantes.

The Chiapas government has not yet been able to consolidate the negotiations with the group of kidnappers for the release of the workers.

On Thursday, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was emphatic and called for the unconditional release of the 16 kidnapped security officials.

He vowed that federal authorities will look into the allegations against officials in Chiapas, plagued by conflicts among criminal groups operating along the border with Guatemala.

“We are going to investigate it, as we investigate all the cases in which there are indications of corruption or illicit acts. First we want them to liberate (the hostages) because that is not the way, that we will not accept,” the president said.

Based on the content of the videos, the mass abduction appears to be related to a dispute between two organized crime factions, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel.

“It is a group that is in confrontation with another group, but that is another matter, it has nothing to do with innocent people,” the president said. EFE


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