Tuesday, January 21, 2014

México: IFAI Orders Federal AG's Office to Release the Names of All Foreigners Murdered During 2000-2013

According to The Latin American Tribune, the federal Attorney General’s Office has been instructed to release data on foreigners who were gunned down in México from 2000 to 2013, the Institute for Access to Federal Information (IFAI) has reported.

The decision by the IFAI, an independent agency, to order the release of the information was made after the AG’s office said it would not provide the figures because they were “nonexistent.”

Sadly, the AG’s office took this position even though foreigners, especially migrants, have been victims of the wave of drug-related violence that has plagued México in recent years.

COMMENT: An unidentified woman seeking data on the violent deaths of foreigners was instructed by the AG’s office to make her request “to the Foreign Relations Secretariat and the state attorneys general” because the federal office did not possess the information!

“The woman making the request was unhappy and filed a request for review with the IFAI, citing the various cooperation agreements signed by AG’s office officials and the forensic anthropology team that committed the agency to release information about the migrants found in mass graves in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon” states, the IFAI said in a statement.

The information must be provided “by year, gender, nationality and age from the year 2000 to October 7, 2013,” the IFAI said.

Although migrants entering and leaving México are vulnerable to not only corrupt Mexican officials, but those that exploit them for large sums of money, it should also be emphasized that the IFAI’s commendable efforts may hopefully shed light on the large number of foreigners who have either disappeared and/or have been murdered during the period 2000-2013.

According to THE THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE, The FBI's Laredo office has retrieved 239 reports in the last decade of Americans kidnapped mostly in Tamaulipas - 121 have never been located, said Special Agent Michelle Lee, a San Antonio-based FBI spokesperson, although the FBI did not define what “located” meant.

The latest case, described in a federal criminal complaint unsealed in July 2013, involved members of an organized crime group from Tamaulipas who established a base of operations in Texas. In May 2011, a group of kidnappers and hit men abducted a Texas resident from a ranch near Mission.

Mission, TX is a city in Hidalgo County, which has a population of 77,058. Mission is part of the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission and Reynosa-McAllen metropolitan areas.

The abduction of a US Permanent Resident holder in Mission involved a kidnapper posing as a police officer who “arrested” the victim and stuffed him in the trunk of a vehicle and crossed into México.

Gang members then killed the victim at an unknown location inside México, though they realized he'd been targeted by mistake. The victim had no criminal record and no involvement in the drug trade, according to information released by Houston-based US Attorney Kenneth Magidson. No body has ever been recovered.

THE CHRONICLE reports also that newly released US State Department data reveals that five of 37 murders of US citizens reported in México so far in 2013 occurred in Nuevo Laredo. Only Tijuana has had more with nine US citizen murders reported through June.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Mexico City refused to identify any of those murder victims or elaborate on how three people were killed on a single day in February in Nuevo Laredo.

The US State Department added: "We release limited statistics on the non-natural deaths of US citizens here, but do not release detailed information about individual deaths out of respect for the families of the deceased.”

Interestingly, though, the State Department strangely does not track kidnappings or disappearance of US citizens. If they don’t, who does? No one?
The Mexican federal government said in February 2013 that more 26,000 people have been reported missing in México since 2006.

Zane Plemmons, 30, a freelance journalist from San Antonio, TX, disappeared in March 2012 after missing a bus to Mazatlan and spending a night in a Nuevo Laredo hotel. He left his room carrying a camera and never returned. He is still missing.

Plemmons’ sister, Lizanne Sánchez of San Antonio, said she still thinks of "him as a survivor," though there have been no ransom demands and no signs he's accessed his bank account.

Armando Torres III, a US Marine reservist and Iraqi war veteran from the Rio Grande Valley town of Hargill, crossed an international bridge into México to visit his father's ranch on May 14, 2013, one last time before relocating to VA. He and his father and uncle were abducted by a group of men driving a white truck at the family ranch near La Barranca in Tamaulipas. They are still missing.

For five years, THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE has reported on cases of Americans murdered in México. From 2008 to June 2013, 469 US citizens were reported murdered, according to US State Department data.