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MEXICO: Chihuahua - Killings in Ciudad Juarez



Ciudad JuŠez, the Mexican twin city of El Paso im the state of Chihuahua, has achieved notoriety: The Mexican Justice Department said that 258 women had been killed since 1993 there the first time federal investigators offered a public death toll for a decade of murders against women in the rough border city. That tally appears to include what prosecutors say were the sexually motivated killings of at least 93 young women, as well as the cases of more than 150 other females who have been killed over the last decade in Juarez under other circumstances. Issued in Mexico City, the report did not specify what those other circumstances were. Federal investigators have taken over the cases of 14 of the 93 sexual motivated murders and have suggested that organ trafficking or religious cults may have been involved in some of those deaths.

Despite a string of arrests by Chihuahua state police, bodies have continued to turn up in and around the city of 1.3 million. Widespread public distrust of state police, who allegedly extracted confessions from some suspects under torture, led to pressure on federal police to take over the case. Speaking before Congress, Attorney General Rafael Macedo de La Concha said he would work to reduce perceived rivalries between state and federal authorities by creating a joint investigating office in Juarez, where federal officials would work alongside investigators from the Chihuahua attorney general's office.

In Mexico, murder is normally a state crime, but federal investigators can take over an investigation when there is evidence of a federal offense, such as organ trafficking. Almost all of the 93 victims whose killings were apparently sexually motivated have been young, slender women. Most of them were strangled or sexually-abused and left half-clothed. It had been unclear just how many women have been murdered over the past decade in Juarez. Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights had said in April that 232 such murders had been documented. Non-governmental groups have estimated the number of victims at more than 300. The murder tally announced by the federal attorney general is based on figures supplied by the state attorney general in Chihuahua.

For details, see Mexico Week in Review. I wonder what WAIS Chihuahua expert Dick Hancock has to say about this?

Ronald Hilton - 6/6/03


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