Three more youths have disappeared in Veracruz and, once again, municipal police have been arrested as suspects.
State police turned up at municipal headquarters in Papantla this morning and arrested the municipality’s police chief and 41 of its 180 officers in connection with the disappearance last week of three youths.
The arrests come nine days after the disappearance of three young men in two separate incidents in this city in the north of the state of Veracruz.
According to Blanca Ninfa Cruz, her son, Alberto Uriel Pérez Cruz, 18, and Luis Alberto Morales Cruz, 19, left his home between 8 and 9:00am on the morning of Saturday, March 19 to visit the former’s girlfriend.
It was she who observed that the two men were being followed by various police patrol vehicles and attempted to flee. Police began firing at the tires of Pérez Cruz’ vehicle.
The two men were subsequently apprehended and taken away by police, said the girlfriend.
The same morning, Jesús Alán Ticante, 24, left his home to pay his grandmother a visit, but never arrived. His brother, Alberto, said witnesses told him they had seen police chasing Pérez Cruz’ vehicle in the same area where his brother would have been.
He believes that Jesús Alán, too, was taken away by municipal police. His theory is based on incidents that took place between his brother and his girlfriend’s stepfather, a municipal police officer.
The latter allegedly assaulted Jesús Alán on at least two occasions while another officer threatened to kill him.
The Papantla story is similar to that of Tierra Blanca, where five youths were detained in January by local police, and Ayotzinapa-Iguala, where 43 disappeared. In the first instance, the bodies of two of the youths have been found and eight municipal police are in custody, along with five suspected members of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación.
In the Ayotzinapa case, which also remains under investigation, 43 college students were allegedly detained by municipal police in Iguala, Guerrero, in September 2014 and turned over to a crime gang. They are believed by federal authorities to have been killed and their bodies burned.
The authorities’ findings have been challenged and refuted by other independent investigators.