Jul 20, 2011

Juarez teens vanish in downtown; officials implicate Mexican gang

Reprinted from the El Paso Times

Family searches for Juárez teen missing since last week
By Diana Washington Valdez/El Paso Times

Relatives of Juárez resident Nancy I. Navarro Muñoz, 18, said they have become desperate in their search for the teenager who has been missing July 13.
Her parents told authorities they last saw Navarro when she left the house to apply for a job at the Modernas Telas fabric store in downtown Juárez. She was looking for work because she had lost her job at one of the Lear maquiladora plants and has a baby to support.
This week, the teenager's relatives and friends conducted a protest in front of the Chihuahua state attorney general's office, complaining that investigators are not doing enough to find Navarro.
Lucy Muñoz, Navarro's mother, said her daughter was last seen at a bus stop downtown around 2 p.m. on July 13.
According to XEPM-TV (Channel 99/Televisa) in Juárez, a string of young women with similar profiles as Navarro have turned up missing in recent months.
More than half a dozen of them attended the private Ignacio Allende preparatory school, which is in front of the Benito Juárez monument in downtown Juárez. The missing teenagers were known to use Facebook and vanished in the same part of the city, XEPM reported.
FBI and Mexican federal attorney general officials previously said that Juárez Azteca gang members allegedly were implicated in the deaths and disappearances of young women. Officials said the gang is part of "La Linea," a network of corrupt police and business operators that control drug-smuggling in downtown Juárez.
Juárez city officials said Tuesday that a special police unit called Grupo Jaguares (Jaguars) was sent to patrol areas around schools to keep criminals away and prevent campus property thefts.
Non-governmental organizations like Amnesty International and Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa have alerted to a new wave of violence aimed at young women in Juárez.
"On a number of occasions, the authorities have failed to respond rapidly to reports of women and young girls going missing," Amnesty International said in a statement after Adriana Sarmiento, 15, was reported missing in 2008.
Chihuahua state officials said 122 girls and women have been killed in Juárez this year, and that most of the deaths were related to organized crime. Mexican officials said 58 girls and women who were reported missing at the end of 2010 had not been found.
Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at dvaldez@elpasotimes.com; 546-6140.
See story in Spanish by Juarez reporter Felix Gonzalez at http://www.nortedigital.mx/noticias/local/30138
[News media in Ciudad Juarez that published recent articles on the topic include Norte de Ciudad Juarez print newspaper and online at www.nortedigital.com.mx and XEPM-TV/Televisa.]