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Six arrested over kidnappings linked to Chapala massacre

May 14, 2012

State police have captured a leader of the Milenio Cartel linked to the massacre of 18 people whose dismembered bodies were dumped in two SUVs just off the Chapala highway last Wednesday.

Juan Carlos Antonio Mercado, alias “El Chato,” was detained in the municipality of Tala, around 40 kilometers west of Guadalajara, and presented before the media on Saturday.

He is one of six suspects arrested in relation to the massacre and the kidnapping of another 14 people who were destined to be slain. Of these, 12 were rescued alive last week and two were found shot dead in the municipality of El Arenal.

“El Chato”, 27, told the media that he belonged to the Milenio Cartel but also worked for a member of Los Zetas, known only as “Fernando” or the “R-2.” The suspect admitted responsibility for the random kidnapping of 14 people being held at a safe house in Ahuisculco, Tala.

He said they originally planned to kill the victims and leave the bodies beneath Guadalajara’s Millennium Arches on May 10 to “cause terror” among the population. Members of Milenio and Los Zetas dumped 26 corpses in the same location last November, but “El Chato” said the heavy presence of state police prevented them from fulfilling their plan.

Twelve of those being held were freed after one escaped and alerted authorities. No arrests were made at the time but four other suspects were detained in Tala on Friday.

The Jalisco Public Security Agency (SSP) said the suspects were acting on the orders of “El Chato” and were linked to the kidnapping of those killed and dumped beside the Chapala highway on Wednesday, May 9. Several weapons and 30 kilograms of marijuana were uncovered in the raid.

The SSP discovered another safe house in San Nicolas de Ibarra, Chapala, last Thursday night, where they seized an arsenal of 10 assault rifles AR-15 and AK-47s, four pistols and five grenades allegedly belonging to the same criminal group.

On May 8, the eve of the massacre, state police arrested Laura Rosales Sanchez, 25, who was identified by the kidnap victims who had been held in the Ahuisculco safe house. Rosales later told the authorities that last week’s slaughter was carried out in revenge for the killing of 23 suspected Zetas in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas on May 4, which she attributed to the Sinaloa Cartel.

Headed by billionaire fugitive Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the Sinaloa Cartel is locked in a bloody turf war with Los Zetas across several Mexican states. The Sinaloa Cartel controls Jalisco in alliance with the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, but recent insurgencies by Los Zetas have led to increased bloodshed in areas such as Lake Chapala.

Chapala residents march for peace

Around 500 Chapala residents led a peace march on Sunday night in response to the dumping of 18 disfigured bodies in Ixtlahuacan last Wednesday.

Many of the victims were upstanding members of the Chapala community and several of their family members took part in the march.

Demanding a return to peace and tranquility, the demonstrators amassed at the charreria arena at 8 p.m. and marched in silence for one kilometer to the Malecon.

They were all clad in white, with many carrying white flowers and torches, while others brought umbrellas to provide shelter from the evening rain.

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