The Mexican is in shock after six teenagers aged between 14 and 18 were found massacred on a remote ranch in the central state of Zacatecas – with security forces locating only one survivor.
The surviving teenager, identified as Sergio Acevedo, 18, and the other young men were found on a farm in Malpaso, a neighborhood in the municipality of Villanueva, during an aerial surveillance operation Wednesday morning.
The victims were identified as: Diego Rodríguez, 17; Jorge Ocon, 14 years old and his cousin Héctor Salcedo, 14 years old; Gumaro Santacruz, 18; Oscar Rojas, 15 years old; and Jesús Rodríguez, 18 years old.
Acevedo suffered injuries to his head and nose and was rushed to Zacatecas General Hospital in the state capital, where he is being guarded by police, the office of the Attorney General of Zacatecas.
This horrific discovery comes amid a shocking increase in mass kidnappings in Mexico – and just a few weeks after five students were brutally murdered by cartel thugs, with one victim forced to behead his childhood friend.
Authorities in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas located Sergio Acevedo on a farm on Wednesday. The 18-year-old is the only survivor among the seven teenagers kidnapped on Sunday from a ranch in the municipality of Zacatecas, Villanueva.
Six teenagers were found dead on Wednesday at a ranch in Zacatecas, just three days after their kidnapping. In the photo, top row from left to right: Diego Rodríguez, Jorge Ocon and Héctor Salcedo. Pictured, bottom row, left to right: Gumaro Santacruz, Oscar Rojas and Jesús Rodríguez
Security forces inspect the agricultural area where the bodies of six teenagers and a survivor were found on Wednesday
Survivor Acevedo is in a stable and under the supervision of a psychologist, authorities said.
He told his mother, Karla Rodríguez, that “he didn’t do anything wrong,” according to Mexican media outlet Milenio.
“Yes, he recognizes me, but he has no idea of the time at the moment, maybe it’s because of the beating, I don’t know,” Rodríguez said. “He said he wasn’t prepared to do bad things, he said ‘I didn’t do anything wrong’, I told him ‘I know, son, I know.’
She also denied comments made by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who told reporters that Acevedo had been questioned by investigators.
“It’s not true, my son didn’t say anything, he’s not doing well at the moment, he’s on sedatives,” she said, as quoted by El Zol de Zacatecas newspaper. “He didn’t say anything and didn’t talk to anyone other than me.”
Funerals were held Thursday for all the victims.
“My little gumarito,” wrote Jennifer Santacruz, one of Gumero Santacruz’s family members. “We will always remember you as the wonderful person you were. You were a very good child with a big heart and that will always stay with us. Fly high. More flowers are coming to you now.
The bodies of six dead teenagers, aged 14 to 18, and an 18-year-old were found by security forces in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas on Wednesday. The teenagers were kidnapped Sunday from a ranch where they were hanged with friends Sunday morning. A police source told Mexican newspaper Reforma that members of the Sinaloa cartel were involved in the kidnapping. At least six people were arrested
The youths, who were attending school and reportedly not involved in gangs, were hanging out with a group of girls when a group of armed men attacked a ranch in the La Soledad neighborhood around 5 a.m. Sunday.
The property is located just 500 meters from a regional public security station.
The teenagers were forced into vehicles, beaten and abandoned on a ranch 15 kilometers away in the Malpaso neighborhood.
Police sources said the teenagers were kidnapped by the Sinaloa cartel, which is at war with its rivals for control of federal Route 54 that connects Jalisco to the Pacific Ocean, according to news outlet Reforma.
The Zacatecas Department of Public Security deployed 10 units made up of 300 agents to search for the victims.
Relatives and friends of the missing teenagers blocked access to two highways on Tuesday in a bid to pressure authorities to speed up the search.
The parents returned Wednesday to block another road and stood there for an hour before being informed of the findings.
Authorities have arrested at least six people in connection with the kidnappings and murders.
“What happened in Zacatecas with the young people is regrettable,” said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Families have expressed frustration with Zacatecas officials, accusing them of covering up details of the ongoing investigation into the teens’ deaths.
“I didn’t even see him. I don’t want to see them because they didn’t show their faces,” Jorgo Ocon’s father told Milenio.
A police car monitors the ranch where the bodies of six teenagers and a survivor were found on Wednesday, following their kidnapping from a farm on Sunday morning.
This incident is the latest tragic consequence of mass kidnappings of young people this year.
In August, a gruesome video circulated on social media showing the final moments of five young men kidnapped in the neighboring state of Jalisco.
In the video, we see two bound and inert bodies lying in the foreground. A youth seen bludgeoning and apparently decapitating another victim appears to be the fourth member of the group of kidnapped friends himself.
At the height of Mexico’s drug cartel brutality in the 2010s, gangs sometimes forced kidnapping victims to kill each other. In 2010, a Mexican cartel kidnapped men from passenger buses and forced them to fight to the death with sledgehammers.
In May, as many as eight young workers were killed in Jalisco after apparently trying to quit their jobs at a call center run by a violent drug cartel that targeted Americans in a real estate scam.
Zacatecas is one of Mexico’s most violent states, where rival criminal gangs regularly compete over lucrative smuggling routes.
In the first eight months of this year, more than 500 people were murdered in the state, according to government data.