Mexico investigates disappearance of three Italians

Naples natives Raffaele Russo, Antonio Russo, and Vincenzo Cimmino reportedly went missing on January 31 after being detained by police in Tecalitlán, Jalisco
Currently, investigations are being carried out in Tepaltepec, Buenavista, and Apatzingán, municipalities located in Tierra Caliente, a region bordering Jalisco - Photo: Raúl Tinoco/EL UNIVERSAL
27/02/2018
12:49
Newsroom & Agencies
Mexico City
REUTERS
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Naples natives Raffaele Russo, 60,  Antonio Russo, 25, and Vincenzo Cimmino, 29 reportedly went missing on January 31 after being detained by police at a gasoline station in the municipality of Tecalitlán in southern Jalisco.

Since that day, state authorities have been collaborating in the investigation with Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office and Foreign Ministry and the Italian Embassy in Mexico said Jalisco General Secretary Roberto López.

López did not say if they were in direct contact with the relatives of the disappeared Italians, yet over that weekend family members and friends took to the streets of Naples to demand that Mexico’s Government locate the three Italian citizens.

On Tuesday, February 20, Mexican authorities said they had asked Rome for a criminal background check on six Italian citizens after three of them went missing allegedly at the hands of local police.

The Attorney General’s Office in Jalisco said at least one of the Italians was arrested three years ago in the tourist beach resort of Cancún, but gave no details.

“We are asking Italy for records for all of them, not just the three that went missing,” Jalisco Attorney General Raúl Sánchez told reporters. “But also for the three people that were with them, because we know that it was six of them.”

Sánchez said the Italians were not in Mexico as tourists, but instead selling fake-brand power generators and other tools, passing them off as name brands.

Another Italian was arrested on Tuesday in neighboring Guanajuato state for selling the same type of products, Sánchez added.

On Saturday, state prosecutors said four police officers in western Mexico were arrested on suspicion of abducting three missing Italian men for local gangsters.

The Jalisco Attorney General’s Office said four Tecalitlán police officers, three men and a woman, had been held on suspicion of carrying out the forced disappearance of Raffaele Russo, Antonio Russo, and Vincenzo Cimmino.

Raúl Sánchez said the arrested police officers had told investigators they had been ordered to hand over the three men to a local criminal gang.

It was not clear why the police had been told to abduct the men.

Authorities are still trying to locate the Italians, and investigations are continuing, he assured at a news conference.

Currently, investigations are being carried out in Tepaltepec, Buenavista, and Apatzingán, municipalities located in Tierra Caliente, a region bordering Jalisco to the North and West and encompassing Michoacán, Guerrero, and the State of Mexico.

While security has been reinforced in Briseñas, Chilchota, Churintzio, Escuandureo, La Piedad, Panindícuaro, Purépero, Tangamandapio, Tangancícuaro, Tanhuato, Tlazazalca, Venustiano Carranza, Vista Hermosa, Yurécuaro, and Zamora, municipalities bordering Jalisco.

Mexico is facing its worst-ever surge in violent crime, with more than 25,000 killings in 2017, as rival drug gangs splinter into smaller groups and dispute territory.

Jalisco is home to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), one of Mexico’s most powerful drug gangs and one notorious for infiltrating the police. Sánchez could not say whether the Italians had been handed over to members of the CJNG.

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