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  HOME | Mexico

Mexican Feds Probe Slaying of Anti-Kidnapping Activist

MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s federal Attorney General’s Office, or PGR, said it is launching an investigation into the killing of a Mormon anti-kidnapping activist and another man in the northern border state of Chihuahua.

The PGR has taken over the investigation into the slaying of Benjamin Le Baron and one of his relatives, AG Eduardo Medina Mora said.

Family members of the anti-crime activist said Le Baron was killed due to a lack of police protection, even though the AG office had promised to safeguard his life.

An armed group on Tuesday burst into the home of the Mormon leader, who had led demonstrations to denounce a spate of kidnappings in Chihuahua, including the abduction of his brother Erick.

That pressure forced the kidnappers to free Erick Le Baron before they had collected the $1 million ransom they were demanding.

In reprisal, the gang abducted Benjamin and his relative in the Mormon community of Galeana and tortured and killed them. They left a message next to their bodies warning other members of the community against collaborating with authorities.

The Mexican Congress on Wednesday asked the PGR to assume jurisdiction over the case and clear up the killings of the two men.

Separately, some 20 civic organizations released a statement demanding that authorities solve the murder and put a halt to the nationwide spiral of violence.

“The recent events in Chihuahua confirm the degree of impunity with which criminal gangs operate ... and the tolerance and ineffectiveness of state and federal authorities (responsible for) combating them,” they said.

The organizations said that due to security forces’ failure to combat violent crime, 39 people have been killed nationwide by kidnappers over the past six months.

The “government’s triumphalist discourse is contradicted everyday by the real Mexico, by the Mexico where all the citizens live in fear,” they said.

Among the civic organizations that signed the statement were Halt to Kidnapping, Co-Existence Without Violence, the Institute for Security and Democracy and Mexico United Against Crime.

Armed groups linked to Mexico’s drug cartels murdered around 1,500 people in 2006 and 2,700 people in 2007, with the 2008 death toll soaring to more than 6,000.

More than 3,300 have died so far this year.

Since taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon has deployed more than 45,000 soldiers and 20,000 federal police officers across Mexico in a bid to stem the wave of violence unleashed by the drug mobs.

Kidnapping, meanwhile, has become a widespread problem in Mexico, with criminal gangs of different levels of sophistication targeting victims from various strata of society.

According to some experts, the drug cartels have increasingly turned to kidnapping to supplement their drug revenue amid the nationwide crackdown on their operations. EFE

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