QUITO – The Ecuadorian teenager who survived the massacre of migrants last week at a Mexican ranch said in an interview broadcast Thursday that he was traveling with 76 other people and urged his countrymen to avoid trying to reach the United States via Mexico because the “Zetas are killing lots of people.”
Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla, who arrived in Ecuador on Monday and is under police protection, discussed his journey and told Gama TV viewers that those who are thinking about heading north should stay home.
“Don’t go, there are many bad guys who don’t let you pass, don’t go anymore. There were 76 people traveling with me, and they killed them all. I am telling all Ecuadorians to not travel anymore because Los Zetas are killing lots of people,” Lala Pomavilla said.
The 18-year-old Ecuadorian notified Mexican marines of the Aug. 24 massacre of 72 people at a ranch near San Fernando, a town in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, and told officials that the migrants were kidnapped by armed men before they reached the U.S. border.
Marines found the bodies of the 58 men and 14 women after a shootout with gunmen at the ranch that left a marine and three criminals dead.
The Mexican government confirmed Wednesday that a second person survived the massacre at the ranch after Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa revealed that Lala Pomavilla, the first survivor identified, shared the information with him.
The second survivor is from Honduras and “has provided important information for the identification of those suspected of being responsible” for the massacre, the Mexican Attorney General’s Office and the Foreign Relations Secretariat said in a statement.
“The Government of Mexico has provided protection and security to the Honduran national with the full knowledge and support of his country’s authorities,” the statement said.
The Honduran has been offered “the options corresponding to his migratory status,” the Cabinet departments said, adding that Mexico was taking “the maximum measures to guarantee his security.”
Lala Pomavilla’s information indicates that three people from the original group of 77 migrants are missing.
The massacre survivor, whose image appears shaded in the video, said he traveled from Ecuador to Honduras and then on to Guatemala, where he spent about “15 days.”
He crossed into Mexico by boat from Santa Elena, Guatemala, with other migrants.
The migrants arrived in northeast Mexico and were surrounded by three vehicles carrying eight “well armed” people, who took them to a house, tied them up in groups of four and kept them for a night, Lala Pomavilla said.
“Later, they put us face down,” Lala Pomavilla said, adding that he heard gunshots and was shot.
The gunmen finished “firing and they left, they killed everybody,” the eyewitness said.
The teenager, who has trouble speaking because of the wound he sustained to his throat, said he waited “two minutes,” went outside and started walking.
After walking all night, Lala Pomavilla came across two men who refused to help him and eventually made contact with some Mexican marines.
Mexican investigators suspect that the massacre was carried out by members of the notorious Zetas drug cartel.
The massacre occurred as a result of the war between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas in northeast Mexico, officials said.
After several years as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories. EFE