Skip to main content

Terrorism

18 people linked to 'Los Zetas' cartel sentenced for massacre that killed 72 migrants

Fifty-eight men and 14 women were murdered after being deprived of their freedom in the town of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, in 2010

Sentencian a 18 personas relacionadas con cártel Los Zetas por masacre de 72 migrantes
Los migrantes eran obligados a trabajar para Los Zetas, y aquellos que no accedían eran ejecutados | EFE / Archivo

May 3, 2022 8:01pm

Updated: May 5, 2022 12:28pm

The Mexican Attorney General's Office (FGR) reported on Tuesday that it obtained multiple sentences for 18 people for kidnapping and murdering 72 migrants in San Fernando, in the state of Tamaulipas, in August 2010.

All of those sentenced are related to the "Los Zetas" criminal organization. Several were arrested in 2011 after arrest warrants were issued against them. More than a decade later, they received sentences ranging from 13 to 58 years in prison, as well as fines, reported Infobae.

According to the Attorney General's Office, the convicted men participated in the kidnapping of foreign migrants traveling in passenger trucks. The purpose was to force them to work for them, and those who disagreed were executed and buried in clandestine graves.

In San Fernando, 58 men and 14 women were murdered after being deprived of their freedom. The victims were traveling to the United States and were killed less than 150 kilometers from the border.

In 2013, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) sent the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions to Mexico. "There appears to be a direct link between the disappearances and murders of migrants, organized crime, and the complicity of investigative police and other authorities," the preliminary report states.

The Foundation for Justice and the Democratic Rule of Law documented errors or negligence that the Mexican government committed during the investigation of the case. In particular, it noted that the families were given strict orders not to see the remains of the victims and have since commented that they are unsure if the bodies they buried are really their relatives.

"In 2010 and 2011, the Zetas had the 36 San Fernando police officers at their service... However, the agents engaged with the criminals in different ways. Some became enthusiastic accomplices; others distanced themselves without confronting or fighting the criminals," according to another report published in 2016 by El Colegio de Mexico.

The aforementioned report also indicates that the then governor of Tamaulipas, Egidio Torre Cantú, refused to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem and avoided any responsibility of his government, leaving the investigation in the hands of the federal government, and he even allegedly failed to carry out actions to prevent or combat the criminal cell of "Los Zetas" operating in San Fernando.

The element of collusion between justice authorities and organized crime is one of the possible reasons for the late judicial resolution, claimed Mexican media outlets.