Three film students who disappeared in Jalisco last month were tortured and murdered by a drug cartel before their bodies were dissolved in acid, state authorities said yesterday.
Javier Salomón Aceves Gastélum, Marcos Francisco García Ávalos and Jesús Daniel Díaz García were kidnapped by armed men in Tonalá, near Guadalajara, on March 19.
According to Attorney General Raúl Sánchez Jiménez, at least eight presumed members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) were involved in the disappearance and murder of the men.
Two of the eight alleged criminals have been apprehended and ordered to stand trial while a further six arrest warrants have been issued.
Investigations revealed that the three students — all of whom attended the Audiovisual Media University (CAAV) in Guadalajara — were working on a project in the home of one of the student’s aunts on the day they were kidnapped.
As it turned out, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Authorities said that two CJNG members were watching the house because a rival criminal known as El Cholo, the leader of the Nueva Plaza criminal group, was expected to arrive there.
“Without knowing it, the students were in a place of grave risk . . .” a video released by the attorney general’s office said.
The three men were abducted after they left the home and were forced to stop when the vehicle they were traveling in had mechanical problems, witnesses said.
Posing as security authorities, the armed men took the students to a ranch where one died from the beating he received while being interrogated.
Lis Torres, who headed the investigation, said that the kidnappers consequently concluded that they “had to execute the other two.”
Authorities found traces of blood at the property which matched the DNA of Díaz García as well as police uniforms, counterfeit federal Attorney General’s office identification and weapons.
The three bodies were then taken to another property where they were allegedly dissolved in barrels containing acid.
Authorities found two weapons and 46 barrels of sulfuric acid at the scene and also collected genetic material which suggested that other bodies had also been disposed of in the same place.
One of the investigators who worked on the case said that 20 genetic samples were collected that could belong to the students or criminals who had been present at the same address.
The disappearance of the students sparked a massive protest and widespread condemnation. Several universities sent a clear message to authorities to act urgently to combat violent crime in the state.
None of the students had known links to criminal gangs, authorities said.
About 200 students held a candlelight vigil last night outside Casa Jalisco, the official residence of the governor, and called for his resignation.
In an interview this morning, Aristóteles Sandoval replied, “Absolutely not.” He said there was a “solid investigation” under way and that the “pain and outrage” over the students’ deaths should not be turned into a political issue.