The state authorities of the center-north of Mexico were searching by land and air on Thursday for more than 20 people who were traveling in two trucks and who were reported missing as they passed through the state of San Luis Potosí, but in those tasks they located 51 alleged victims of different crimes, the federal government said in a statement.
The curious thing is that no one had reported the disappearance of the rest of the people, that the authorities only identified one of the individuals located and that for two days contradictory information followed one another in an area of Mexico that is a key route to the United States and of intense organized crime activity.
It all started on Tuesday, when the vehicle rental and tourism services company Grupo Eifel denounced the alleged kidnapping of more than 20 people, including two of its employees —the drivers— who were traveling in two company vans bound for Saltillo, in the border state of Coahuila.
As explained to Associated Press the legal representative of the company, Adrián González, the group, made up of adult men, had left San Felipe, in the violent state of Guanajuato, on Monday morning in a van with capacity for 15 people and another with six passengers , the first of them with GPS.
In the early hours of Tuesday they realized that the vehicle with a locator was stopped at the height of the neighboring state of San Luis Potosí, which worried the company. The alarm grew by not being able to contact the drivers.
González explained that one of his brothers received a call from the person who contracted the service, who was one of the passengers, saying that organized crime individuals had captured them and that they were asking for 60,000 pesos (about $3,000) for each one to release them. . He also said that the drivers were kept in a separate place.
González, who said he did not know what the person who hired his services was doing, filed a complaint on Tuesday with the Guanajuato prosecutor’s office and contacted the National Guard, which that same day located one of the trucks in Matehuala, in San Luis Potosí, but with no one on board, according to the report from the military that González shared with the PA.
When the complaint became public on Wednesday, the government authorities of Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí announced joint tracking efforts, which were later joined by federal forces.
But in the operation they found more people than they were looking for.
The San Luis Potosí prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday that it had located 16 individuals who were victims of robbery, and on Thursday that it had found two groups of possible migrants who were being held, in addition to seizing five trucks and long weapons.
The authorities did not clarify if they were the people who were denounced as missing by the Eifel Group until a statement issued by the federal government on Thursday night identified Luis Felipe Macías Arriaga, the driver of one of the vehicles that he was allegedly carrying. to migrants.
González confirmed to the PA that Macías Arriaga was the driver of one of his trucks and, after speaking with the relatives of some of the disappeared in recent days, indicated that the passengers were not undocumented migrants but residents of ranches in Guanajuato. He did not know if they planned to emigrate to the United States because they only said they were going to Saltillo to work, he said.
“We hope to have communication with our operator, to tell us about his experience” and to have more information to clarify what happened, said the businessman, who said he had never experienced a similar situation.
Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí register a high level of violence due to disputes between cartels for control of the region.
Kidnappings and disappearances are relatively frequent on the roads in many areas of Mexico, especially when traveling at night, when criminal groups tend to operate.