Kidnapping epidemic grips Mexico

Mexico has the second-highest rate of kidnapping on Earth, topped only by Syria, according to international organizations, who blame drug cartels and complicit law enforcement that frequently gives the cartels a pass.
By Rick Docksai | Sep 02, 2018
Mexico's drug-trafficking violence now includes a crisis-level epidemic of kidnappings, according to international organizations, who report that Mexican civilians become victims of abduction at a higher rate than civilians of any country on Earth except Syria. The primary culprits are the cartels, who use kidnappings to instill fear and control the population, sources said.

Maria Elena Salazar, a resident of the northern border state of Coahuila, helped launch a civic association called FUNDEC to press authorities to take action against kidnappings. The group's membership consists of 150 families who have all lost loved ones to kidnappers.

Salazar became involved on the issue nine years ago after the disappearance of her son, Hugo. She told reporters that "I'll be right back, mom," were the last words she heard from him over the phone before he vanished and became one of the 37,345 persons currently listed as "missing" in Mexico.

"From the day he disappeared, I became an activist," Maria Salazar told Deutsche Welle, explaining that she has been investigating her son's disappearance on her own.

Police have not sometimes sabotaged her efforts, according to Salazar. She said that officers tear down "missing" posters that she hangs around the city.

"They don't want society to realize what an enormous problem this is," Salazar said.

The border state of Coahuila is the scene of 42% of Mexico's abductions, according to activists, who blame the large presence of organized crime in the state. But they describe the problem as endemic nationwide and enabled partly by inadequate law enforcement: Humberto Guerrero, who researches human rights for the nonprofit Fundar, said that prosecutors have only brought 12 sentences in 37,000 recent missing-persons cases. Many police and prosecutors are colluding with the cartels and kidnappers, Guerrero said.



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