Four Mexican Police Officers Charged With Abduction of Italian Nationals
Four police officers in Mexico were arrested and accused of the forced disappearance of three Italian citizens who went missing on January 31. According to reports, the abductees were handed over to a local drug cartel known as the Jalisco New Generation.
The men were last seen in Tecalitlán, Jalisco, a city known for its agriculture and drug violence. They were detained by police at a gasoline station and have since gone missing.
While it is unclear what Raffaele Russo, 60, his son Antonio Russo, 25, and his nephew Vincenzo Cimmino, 29, were doing in Tecalitlán, reports speculate that they were selling Chinese merchandise.
The last known communication comes from a Whatsapp message sent by Raffaele Russo notifying his family members in Italy that police officers had ordered the three men to follow them.
State prosecutors have begun the proceedings against 3 Tecalitlán officers: Salomon Adrián “N”, Emilio “N” and Fernando “N”. The fourth officer implicated in the crime, Liidia Guadalupe “N” is believed to have contributed as an operator and was not present at the time of abduction, therefore meriting different charges.
Family members of the abducted individuals claim that the men were sold to a cartel for 1,000 Mexican Pesos (approximately 53 US dollars).
It is unclear why these Italian individuals were of interest to the cartel. Jalisco State Prosecutor Raúl Sánchez commented that he had information indicating that the men were “trying to sell cheap generators and agricultural machinery which they told people was of good quality.”
Their families have denied these claims.
The location of the Italian men is still unknown. Authorities are currently questioning and investigating all leads. The area in which the men were abducted is controlled by one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal gangs, the Jalisco New Generation cartel.
Since the disappearance of the three men, the local Tecalitlán police force has been sent away for retraining. Some sources speculate they were sent away in case they were further influenced by the cartel during the investigation.
Mexican media sources have referenced the case of the disappearance of 43 Mexican students from the town of Iguala. In 2014, local police handed over 43 students from Iguala to a cartel who tragically killed the students.
As police officials continue to investigate and as family members hope for the safe return of their loved ones, Mexico finds itself once again embroiled in a corruption scandal intensified by its narco-violence and organized crime.