Murder of Mexican film students by criminal gang sparks anti-government protests

Apr 26, 2018

Javier Salomon Aceves Gastelum, Daniel Diaz, and Marco Avalos were kidnapped on March 19 while they were filming a school project in Tonala, Jalisco.

Mexican university students are taking to the streets, demanding that the government go after criminal gangs they say murder with impunity. Student leaders claim that the government is intimidated by gangs and cartels and fails to mount effective investigations and prosecutions.

The protests stem from the deaths of three film students, whose genetic remains were found earlier this month in the western Jalisco state. After the students were killed, police say their bodies were dissolved in acid.

The male students, all in their 20s, were kidnapped on March 19 while they were filming a school project in the town of Tonala. Reports in local media say they were seized by a group of men disguised as police when their car broke down on a motorway. The film project reportedly focused on drug violence in Jalisco.

University protest government inaction in murder of film students.

According to state prosecutor, Javier Salomon Aceves Gastelum, Daniel Diaz, and Marco Avalos were killed by members of the New Generation Jalisco Cartel – one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal gangs.

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Raul Sanchez said their bodies were doused with acid to leave them unrecognizable, but forensic investigators matched samples found from a farm with the DNA of at least two of them.

Protests have been called in several cities of the Latin American country where nearly 8,000 people have been killed since the start of 2018. After several years when the murder rate dropped in Mexico, it has soared upward since 2016.

Activists dressed in black held a vigil outside of the house of Jalisco’s governor, Aristoteles Sandoval, which was surrounded by anti-riot police.

A great part of the protesters is refusing to believe the government’s version of the event, and comparing it to the “historical truth” given by Mexico’s prosecutor about the 43 students that have been missing since 2014.

The Guerrero state prosecutor, in that case, said that the students had been handed by corrupt local police to a criminal gang, who killed them and burned their bodies.

More than 200,000 people have been killed or have disappeared since Mexico’s government declared war on organized crime in December 2006. The military offensive has led to the destruction of some drug gangs, and the emergence of new splinter groups.

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