Thursday, June 13, 2024

Mass kidnapping of at least 15 people reported in Culiacán, Sinaloa

Authorities in Sinaloa said that 15 people including several children were kidnapped in Culiacán on Friday, while several media outlets reported that the real number of abductees is 39 or higher.

State Public Security Minister Gerardo Mérida Sánchez said that 15 people, including as many as seven children, were abducted from their homes in the Sinaloa capital. He described the number of victims as a “preliminary” figure and explained that it came from 911 emergency operators.

Media outlets including Milenio, SDP Noticias and Animal Político reported that at least 39 people were kidnapped, while the El Universal newspaper put the figure at 41.

El Universal said that additional calls were made to emergency services from three Culiacán neighborhoods, and that based on the information received by operators, the total number of people abducted by “armed men” had increased to 41. Men, women and children from several families are reportedly among the victims. The motive for the kidnappings was unclear.

Sinaloa Governor Rubén Rocha Moya said in a post to the X social media platform on Friday afternoon that the information in media reports was “still not confirmed.”

Since early Friday, authorities of all three levels of government have been working to “clarify the facts and rescue each person deprived of their freedom, if that was the case,” Rocha said.

A post from the news site Debate showing police in areas where abductions were reported

“In any case, the lives and safety of women, girls and boys must be sacred,” he added.

Mérida attributed the abduction to “criminal groups,” but didn’t identify any by name.

Milenio reported that abductions occurred at various addresses in Culiacán starting at around 4 a.m. Friday. The Reforma newspaper said that state police had visited houses where kidnappings occurred and found firearms, “disarray” and evidence that doors had been forced open.

El Universal reported that residents of the El Palmito neighborhood witnessed armed men entering an address and abducting a man, woman and three children who were put into pickup trucks. Similar events reportedly played out at several other addresses.

Culiacán garbage truck on fire
Immediately after the arrest of Ovidio Guzmán, son of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, presumed cartel members launched a series of armed attacks around Culiacán, and major travel routes around the state were blocked with burning vehicles. (Alma Fonseca / Cuartoscuro.com)

Mérida said there would be a “strong” response from authorities, while Rocha urged Culiacán residents to not be afraid.

“These are things that unfortunately happen,” the governor said, before declaring that in no way had authorities been “overwhelmed.”

Culiacán is a stronghold of the Sinaloa Cartel, the powerful criminal organization formerly led by imprisoned drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

The arrest in January 2023 of one of Guzmán’s sons, Ovidio, triggered a day of violence in Culiacán that left 29 people dead, while a wave of cartel attacks led authorities to take the decision to release the same suspect after he was captured in October 2019.

With reports from Reforma, El Universal and Milenio

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