Mystery continues to surround the case of a teenage boy who disappeared for five days after he was detained last week by police in Mexico City.
Security cameras captured the last minutes before Marco Antonio Sánchez disappeared, during which the 17-year-old is seen running along a bus lane and entering a bus station before he is intercepted and subdued by police.
Officers had accused Sánchez of stealing a cell phone, a charge that he denied.
After his arrest, police put Sánchez into a police car that was captured in five images recorded by security cameras as it passed through city streets.
But in a statement released yesterday, the Mexico City Attorney General’s office reported that cameras installed inside the vehicle have been out of order since November and therefore no footage of Sánchez was recorded in the initial period after his arrest.
City authorities said that Sánchez was taken to a prosecutor’s office in the borough of Azcapotzalco before he was allowed to go a short time later. However, there is no camera evidence confirming that he either arrived or left that location.
For the next five days, Sánchez’s family knew nothing of the fate or whereabouts of the minor.
Yesterday, further footage emerged of Sánchez in the period between his initial arrest and when he was found disoriented and hurt Sunday night in the México state municipality of Melchor Ocampo.
At 3:30am last Saturday — 41 hours before he was found — Sánchez was recorded by a home security camera ringing the doorbell of a house in Naucalpan, México state, before he disappeared again seconds later.
In the footage, there is no evidence of the injury to Sánchez’s cheekbone, which could be seen in images recorded later the same day.
Mexico City officials released CCTV footage last Sunday showing Sánchez being escorted into a courthouse in Tlalnepantla Saturday night after police had located him on a bridge in the municipality where it appeared he intended to take his own life.
However, he was allowed to leave the courthouse an hour later. He was located again the next night almost 30 kilometers from where he was originally arrested.
While it can now be established that Sánchez sustained the injury to his head sometime between early Saturday morning and Saturday night, it remains uncertain how he sustained the injury and why he was in a state of such disorientation when he was found.
It is also still not known what happened to Sánchez on the day he was arrested and in the following days.
In addition, it is unclear why Sánchez was allowed to leave the Tlalnepantla courthouse Saturday night given that a city-wide search was under way for the youth, although there are reports that he refused to give his name and authorities didn’t establish his identity.
Four police officers were questioned in relation to the initial arrest and two were placed under investigation for failing to follow proper police protocol.
At a press conference yesterday, the minor’s father — also Marco Antonio Sánchez — called on Mexico City authorities to investigate the case as an enforced disappearance.
“It’s a situation that they created, at no time did we ask the police to arrest my son, to disappear him,” the boy’s father said.
Sánchez also said that his son’s health had improved but complained that his family has been denied access to results of his medical evaluations.
The latter raises further suspicions about the case. Lawyers for the family have initiated legal action so that the family can see the results of urine and blood tests and an MRI scan of Sánchez’s head. There are unconfirmed reports suggesting that the minor may have been drugged.
The Mexico City secretary of public security admitted that the case had damaged both the force’s reputation and citizens’ confidence in city police.
“The recent events have called the reputation of the SSP into question, the reputation of all the police that work day in day out to defend citizens’ interests stems from the failure of a few police officers to follow the protocols,” Hiram Almeida said.
At a meeting Thursday night, the police chief ordered 140 commanders across the city to strictly supervise the conduct of the capital’s 89,000 officers.
“This cannot happen again,” he declared.