A second suspect in a kidnapping, torture and murder investigation in Mexico has been arrested, prosecutors said Wednesday, after grisly images of them leaked, prompting public fury.
In August, a week after the group of five childhood friends aged 19 to 22 vanished in the western state of Jalisco, police found charred bones and four skulls at a property in the area.
Photos and videos emerged showing the men kneeling with their hands bound, and the moment one of them was attacked with a blunt object and a knife.
One clip appeared to show one friend attacking another, presumably forced to do so by their captors.
A man identified as Celestino M. had been taken into custody in connection with the disappearance, the local prosecutor’s office said Wednesday.
On Monday, authorities announced they had arrested another man, identified as Rogelio M., on charges related to the disappearances in the city of Lagos de Moreno.
The five men were kidnapped on August 11 while they chatted in the working-class neighborhood of San Miguel.
Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro previously said their disappearance was “evidently linked to organized crime.”
“We are facing irrational, violent and direct attacks on the stability of Jalisco that demand a reaction from the Mexican state,” he added.
One of the most powerful organized crime groups in Mexico, the Jalisco New Generation cartel, operates in the region and is embroiled in turf wars with rival drug syndicates.
The case has stunned residents of Lagos de Moreno, home to a thriving dairy industry, colonial buildings and flower-filled parks honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city has registered more than 400 missing persons since 2009.
Many are believed to have ended up in clandestine graves and crematoria, or their remains dissolved in acid.
News of the arrest comes a week after six teenagers kidnapped in the neighboring state of Zacatecas were confirmed dead.
The 14-to-18-year-olds had been abducted by an armed group after a party less than a week earlier.
Mexico has recorded more than 420,000 murders since the launch of a controversial military anti-drug offensive in 2006.
Since then, the country’s murder rate has tripled to 25 per 100,000 inhabitants.
It has registered more than 110,000 disappearances since 1962, most attributed to criminal organizations.
About 15,000 of those have happened in Jalisco, the highest number among Mexico’s 32 states.
©️ Agence France-Presse