Veracruz: The remains of 2 of the 5 Tierra Blanca victims were found on February 8 on a ranch called El Limón in Tlalixcoyan. The ranch is a location known for illegal activity in the region including storage of drugs and stolen fuel along with alteration of vehicles for drug trafficking. Bone fragments located by search dogs found at the ranch match genetic profiles given by the victims’ families.
The two identified victims are José Alfredo González Díaz, age 25 and Bernardo Benítez Arroniz also age 25. The three remaining victims including a 16 year old girl have yet to be located.
In addition to 2 of the 5 Tierra Blanca victims, La Jornada reported that according to Bernardo Benítez Herrera, father of one of the 5 victims, authorities have collected the remains of an estimated 300 to 400 other victims at the El Limón ranch in Tlalixcoyan. All other human remains are allegedly burned beyond the possibility of identification via DNA testing.
Benítez Herrera, father of Tierra Blanca victim Bernardo Benítez Arroniz, confirmed that authorities showed him DNA studies performed on 3 centimeters of a tibia bone that belonged to his son, the rest was burned and cannot be analyzed. Herrera will have independent DNA tests done on the bone to confirm it is in fact the remains of his son.
“Fortunately and for our misfortune, even though it’s only 3 centimeters of a part of my son, we can give him a Christian burial, and have something to pray to.” – Benítez Herrera
The 5 youths were last seen being detained by police on January 11 in Tierra Blanca. Security cameras show police arresting the young people in broad daylight. Seven police officers are said to be detained in connection with the 5 missing youths in Tierra Blanca along with several presumed members of the CJNG cartel.
The state government of Veracruz has claimed a cartel is responsible for their disappearance. The remains of 2 of the Tierra Blanca victims being found on a ranch known as a location of criminal activity seems to confirm a link between Veracruz security forces and organized crime.
— La Red Es Nuestra (@LaRedEsNuestra_) February 9, 2016
“Parents of the missing in Tierra Blanca demand a second DNA test”
“The families of the five youths live moments of profound grief and sadness … We are tired of living in anxiety, our case could happen to anyone, the impunity and network of complicity between authorities and organized crime is all too evident” – family members reported.
The 5 youths were returning to their homes in Playa Vicente after spending the weekend in the port of Veracruz when they were illegally detained by state police. They were riding in a car on the way home from a weekend birthday celebration and had stopped to eat in Tierra Blanca. Security cameras in a store’s parking lot filmed the police detaining the students.
According to the authorities, for unknown reasons the police handed the 5 youths over to a criminal group. The account that the Tierra Blanca victims were last seen being detained by police and later allegedly handed over to a drug cartel is eerily similar to the explanation given by authorities in Guerrero in regards to the fate of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa – who to this day are still missing. The Tierra Blanca case has become known as the “Ayotzinapa of Veracruz.”
18 more Veracruz families who are also missing relatives have come forward to unite with the relatives of the 5 Tierra Blanca victims since news broke of the new case of forced disappearance.
According to Veracruz press, at least 42 cases of forced disappearances have been documented which indicate the involvement of police since Javier Duarte assumed office in 2010. More than 90% of those cases have not been given a fraction of the attention that the 5 missing Tierra Blanca victims have received.
In addition to those 42 cases of forced disappearance, 16 homicides cases with indications of links to Veracruz security forces are also pending investigation which will probably never happen to any meaningful degree.
Relatives of the 2 identified Tierra Blanca victims have demanded a second DNA test be carried out by authorities for both cases.