Vigilante mob in Mexico tourist city brutally beats woman accused of kidnapping girl

Police watched on as the woman was dragged out of a car and beaten on the street

Fernanda Pesce
Friday 29 March 2024 10:00 GMT
A relative of an eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped the previous day, weeps as her body is handed over to family
A relative of an eight-year-old girl, who was kidnapped the previous day, weeps as her body is handed over to family (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A mob in the Mexican tourist city of Taxco has brutally beat a woman they suspected of kidnapping and killing a young girl, just hours before the city’s famous Holy Week procession.

On the eve of Good Friday, men walk through the colonial streets of Taxco wearing hoods, whipping themselves or carrying heavy bundles of thorns in penitence. That and other Holy Week processions date back centuries in the old silver-mining town.

The mob formed after an eight-year-old girl disappeared on Wednesday; her body was found on a road on the outskirts of the city early Thursday. Security camera footage appeared to show a woman and a man loading a bundle, which may have been the girl's body, into a taxi.

The mob surrounded the woman's house on Thursday, threatening to drag her out. Police bundled the woman into the bed of a police pickup truck, but then stood by — apparently intimidated by the crowd — as members of the mob dragged her back into the street and stomped, kicked and pummeled her until she lay, partly stripped and motionless, on the street.

Police then picked her up and took her away; the pavement was stained with blood.

“This is the result of the bad government we have,” said a member of the mob, who gave her name as Andrea but refused to give her last name. “This isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened,” she said, referring to the murder of the girl, “but this is the first time the people have done something.”

“We are fed up,” she said. “This time it was an 8-year-old girl.”

The prosecutors' office in the state of Guerrero, where Taxco is located, did not respond to requests for comment on the case.

A woman holds a sign with a message that reads in Spanish: ‘Justice for Cami’ (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Mayor of Taxco, Mario Figueroa, said he shared residents' outrage over the killing. Figueroa said a total of three suspects — the woman and two men — had been rescued by police. Video from the scene suggested they had also been beaten, though The Associated Press witnessed only the beating of the woman.

In a statement issued soon after the event, Figueroa complained he did not get any help from the state government for his small, outnumbered municipal police force.

“Unfortunately, up to now we have not received any help or answers,” Figueroa said.

Mob attacks in rural Mexico are shockingly common. In 2018, two men were torched by an angry mob in the central state of Puebla, and the next day, a man and woman were dragged from their vehicle, beaten and set afire in the neighboring state of Hidalgo.

But Taxco and other cities in Guerrero state have been particularly prone to violence.

Funeral workers carry the coffin that contain the remains of an 8-year-old girl, in Taxco, Mexico (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

In late January, Taxco endured a days-long strike by private taxi and van drivers who suffered threats from one of several drug gangs fighting for control of the area. The situation was so bad that police had to give people rides in the back of their patrol vehicles.

Around the same time, the bullet-ridden bodies of two detectives were found on the outskirts of Taxco. Local media said their bodies showed signs of torture.

In February, Figueroa's own bulletproof car was shot up by gunmen on motorcycles.

In Taxco and throughout Guerrero state, drug cartels and gangs routinely prey on the local population, demanding protection payments from store owners, taxi and bus drivers. They kill those who refuse to pay.

Local residents said they have had enough, even though the violence may further affect tourism.

“We know the town lives off of Holy Week (tourism) and that this is going to mess it up, there will be a lot of people who won't want to come anymore,” said Andrea, the local resident. “We make our living off tourism, but we cannot continue to allow them to do these things to us.”

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