Authorities said yesterday they are investigating whether police were involved in the disappearance of three Italian citizens in Jalisco last month.
The general secretary of the Jalisco government, Roberto López, said that state authorities are “evaluating [the case], using available information” and would collaborate with the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR), the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and the Italian embassy in Mexico.
But relatives of the missing men say they feel “abandoned” by both Mexican and Italian authorities and have fled Mexico “out of fear.”
Raffaele Russo, 60, Antonio Russo, 25, and Vincenzo Cimmino, 29, — all from Naples — disappeared from the municipality of Tecalitlán in the south of the state on January 31. None of the three men has been seen since.
The latter two were detained by police at a gas station while on their way to the municipal seat to search for their father and uncle with whom they lost contact earlier the same day. The circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the older man are a mystery.
Francesco Russo told the news agency EFE today that neither the Italian embassy in Mexico nor the Jalisco Attorney General’s office has contacted the family to offer any information about the progress of the case involving the disappearance of his father, brother and cousin.
“We’re all afraid of even making a complaint,” Russo said.
He and his sister Daniele were in Mexico at the time of the incident but later left fearing that they too could become victims.
Russo explained that his father is a retired pensioner who had sold “jackets and perfume” in the street since his arrival in Mexico between September and October last year.
On the day of his disappearance, he said, his father told him that he had gone to Tecalitlán to have a look around and see if he could earn any money there.
The last time he heard from him was at 2:30pm on January 31. All subsequent calls to his cell phone went unanswered.
“He suffers from high blood pressure and we thought that he had a headache or he’d had an accident but we never thought that something like this could have happened to him,” Russo told EFE.
Antonio Russo and Cimmino subsequently drove to Tecalitlán from the nearby city of Ciudad Guzmán, where the three disappeared men had been staying.
Francesco Russo said that the last time he heard from the younger men was in a voice message the former sent to his sister’s phone.
In the message, Antonio says they had been intercepted by police at a gas station outside the town and then forced to follow a policeman on a motorcycle.
The last thing he said was that they were stopped at some point on the road and surrounded by a police car and motorcycles.
Francesco Russo said that according to a satellite tracker provided by a car rental company, both the vehicle that the two young men were driving and his father’s vehicle were left on the side of the road between Tecalitlán and Jilotlán de los Dolores. But neither car has since appeared.
Russo added that he suspected that the municipal police were involved because he called the Tecalitlán municipal headquarters the day the men disappeared and spoke to a woman who told him that she had “heard on the radio that the police had detained two young Italian men.”
However, in a second call he made, the same woman denied having said it.
The next day, Francesco traveled from Mexico City to Guadalajara to report the case to Jalisco authorities. Speaking to EFE via telephone, he called on authorities to accelerate their investigations and find out what really happened to the three men.
“The two young men have children . . . and what our families are living through is unfair,” he said.
Roberto López said at a press conference today that state authorities were considering investigating the Tecalitlán municipal police for possible infiltration by organized crime.