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Revenge killers target metro-area bus drivers

February 29, 2012

Bus drivers are running scared after three of their colleagues were killed in a wave of misguided vigilante murders in Guadalajara over the past two weeks.

Several drivers on bus route 380 in Guadalajara quit their jobs this week out of fear for their lives in the wake of vigilante murders of their colleagues.

Members of organized crime gangs calling themselves “Anonymous Avengers” have claimed responsibility for the killings, apparently carried out in revenge for the deaths of pedestrians hit by buses.

On February 9, a 21-year-old bus driver on the route 39-A was shot dead in the city center. The following day a 36-year-old man was shot to death while driving the route 110-A in the Panoramica de Huentitan neighborhood. At the scene of the second incident the killers left an intimidating message warning that for every person killed by buses, two drivers would die in retaliation

A week later, on February 17, a 28-year-old driver on route 380 was killed on the Periferico beltway in Tlaquepaque. Two bus drivers on different routes were also shot dead last year on August 24, although it is unclear whether those killings were linked to the current spate of attacks.

Around 100 drivers demanded greater security on Monday in a demonstration in the Echeverria neighborhood led by Raul Jimenez Pulido, general secretary of the Union of Jalisco Automobile Workers (SUTAJ) and secretary of the Jalisco Transport Federation (FTJ).

“What they are asking for is security for all drivers, because they are scared and do not know who will be next,” said Jimenez. “Everyone, in general, is in fear of going to work.”

At least 50 bus drivers have resigned out of fear, he confirmed, adding that none of the victims had been involved in crashes or had any criminal record, raising fears that the culprits “are killing the first of us that they come across.”

On Monday afternoon, the state government agreed to provide police to screen passengers and patrol bus routes, as requested by the drivers. The Jalisco Attorney General’s Office (PGJEJ) is investigating the attacks and confirmed that messages were found by the crime scenes attributing the killings to a criminal group.

Bus drivers are not particularly popular in Guadalajara due to the frequency of incidents in which they hit pedestrians or other vehicles. Yet they claim to have been victimized by unfair and sensationalist media coverage.

Furthermore, bus drivers work long hours with little rest, no social security or pension fund, no paid vacations and no fixed wages. With drivers forced to work under weariness and pressure, there is a higher chance of them making mistakes and causing accidents.

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