The five who disappeared in Tierra Blanca. The five who disappeared in Tierra Blanca.

Case of missing five drags on in Veracruz

One year later, parents worry that the 18 suspects in custody will go free

One year after five young people — four men and a teenage girl — disappeared after being stopped by state police officers in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, their families fear that the long, cumbersome process will end with all the suspects going free.

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Bernardo Benítez Herrera, the father of one of the young men, told the news website E-consulta in an interview that of the 18 people arrested in connection with the case, among whom were both police officers and civilians, none has been sentenced.

What’s worse, continued Benítez, is that it could take the authorities another two years to reach a final judgement in the case.

“We are worried that if we let up on the legal front those responsible could be released, free to continue committing more crimes,” he said.

“That’s why we continue, even if it wears us down psychologically and economically . . . I don’t know if we’ll be able to continue until the end.”

One year on, Benítez believes the inquiries have been lacking: “It is necessary to investigate higher ranking officers as well; we must remember that everybody has a boss.”

He was alluding to the formal complaint filed before the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) last October against Arturo Bermúdez Zurita, former Public Security Secretary of Veracruz.

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It was found that Bermúdez appointed state police officers that had failed their control and trustworthiness exams.

So far, said Benítez, the PGR has yet to provide an update on that complaint.

The same complaint was rejected by the state Attorney General because there were no grounds on which to prosecute Bermúdez for organized crime charges.

“[Yet] We all know that besides finding the remains of one of the five missing youths on the El Limón ranch, over 8,000 fragments of human remains were also found. The state Attorney General at the time, Luis Ángel Contreras, said that those fragments belonged to 400 different people,” Benítez said.

“On that same ranch were found drums full of gasoline, pipes and everything related to petroleum pipeline tapping, along with stolen cars and merchandise and several weapons.”

He said there was clearly plenty of evidence to indicate that the case was related to organized crime.

The relatives of the missing five filed for an injunction against the Attorney General’s rejection of the Bermúdez case in late December, and the judge’s decision on the matter is expected shortly.

Source: e-Veracruz (sp)

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