Two suspected child snatchers met the same nasty end yesterday in Hidalgo as two others in Puebla met the day before: they were beaten and burned alive by angry citizens.
The lynching occurred in Santa Ana Ahuehuepan, a town in the municipality of Tula. The victims were a 42-year-old man and a 50-year-old woman who, as in the Puebla case, are believed to be innocent.
Local and state authorities said that the vigilante justice was triggered by an alleged incident in the neighboring municipality of Tepetitlán, where the occupants of a pickup truck supposedly attempted to abduct a child in the town of Pedro María Anaya.
When a similar pickup truck appeared in Santa Ana Ahuehuepan, hysteria broke out among residents and they blocked its path and forced the man and woman to get out. The couple pleaded their innocence but citizens refused to listen.
Municipal police arrived at the scene and attempted to rescue the two victims but they too were attacked and forced to retreat, Tula Mayor Ismael Gadoth Tapia said.
The residents then proceeded to beat the man and woman before dousing them in gasoline and setting them on fire.
The man died at the scene of the crime while the woman died en route to hospital of a cardiac arrest occasioned by the burns she suffered, the newspaper El Universal reported.
Hidalgo Interior Secretary Simón Vargas Aguilar told a press conference later that there had been no recent reports of kidnappings in the state and rejected claims circulating on social media to the contrary.
“These are unfounded rumors. Until now there has been no report of a criminal act of that nature. Moreover, nobody should carry out justice by their own hand. That’s what the relevant authorities are for,” he said.
State Public Security Secretary Mauricio Delmar said that cyber police have traced the origin of messages and photos circulating online which claim that kidnappings are occurring — including for the purpose of organ trafficking — and determined that they have no basis in truth.
Authorities in Puebla, where two men — an uncle and his nephew — were beaten and burned alive Wednesday, also said that preliminary inquiries had revealed no evidence that the two victims had committed a crime.
Relatives of the two men are demanding that justice be served for those involved in the lynching.
The men, who were reported drunk at the time, were taken into police custody after they were accosted by residents, who accused them of kidnapping three children.
But the residents took the men from police by force, tied them up, doused them with gasoline and set them on fire in front of the police station.
Martha Flores, sister of the older of the two victims, said that neither of the two men were criminals but rather farm and construction workers. The younger man was also a law student at a university in Xalapa, Veracruz, she added.
“Their mistake, if that’s the way you want to look at it, was to stop and drink a few beers . . . They didn’t do anything wrong, they weren’t child snatchers, they weren’t criminals. They just drank a few beers but because they were next to the school, they said that they were snatching children,” Flores said.