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US customs error keeps local teens in prison

July 23, 2013

Julio & Sergio

Two teenage students from Guadalajara remain in prison in Mazatlan more than eight months after being arrested for drug trafficking, due to a serious error by U.S. authorities that has since been compounded by Mexican bureaucracy.

Sergio Alejandro Torres Duarte, 18, and Julio Cesar Moreno Guzman, 19, were detained at a police checkpoint in Esquinapa, Sinaloa on November 15, 2012, when officers found a package containing 914 grams of cocaine stashed in a secret compartment of their vehicle.

The pair, a month away from finishing their studies at the TecMilenio Preparatoria in Guadalajara, were on their way to a sporting event in Mazatlan in a car belonging to Torres’ father, also named Sergio Torres. Both denied any knowledge of where the drugs had come from.

Torres senior had purchased the blue 2004 Toyota Sienna on February 8, 2012, in an online auction of vehicles seized by U.S. authorities. By June 2012 he had legally imported the vehicle and had it registered with local plates.

Upon learning that his son had been arrested and imprisoned in Mazatlan, Torres began to investigate the vehicle’s origins. Records from The Monitor newspaper in Texas revealed that it had been seized in 2010, with five kilos of cocaine hidden inside.

Prosecutors in Mazatlan contacted the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency  in order to verify whether the drugs matched those found in Esquinapa. The results came back positive, with both batches of cocaine being 91-percent pure and sealed in black wrapping marked “good.” The CBP admitted having either failed to detect the last package or forgotten to remove it.

cocaine

Despite this evidence, the Attorney General’s Office (PGJE) in Sinaloa sent another request to the United States asking for details of the equipment used to test the cocaine, plus a sample from each of the packages seized in Texas. With Torres and Moreno having already spent over eight months in jail, the U.S. government eventually responded that this would not be possible because the evidence had already been destroyed.

Undeterred, the PGJE then solicited new forensic evidence from the United States, a request which could delay the legal process by over six months and is unlikely to yield results given the destruction of the evidence.

Exasperated by this slow process and the absence of justice, the boys’ families – who have been taking it in turn to visit them each weekend at a cost of 7,000 pesos per trip – have begun a media campaign to raise awareness of the case and are considering filing a complaint against the U.S. government through the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).

Over 1,600 people have joined a Facebook group entitled “Por Un Error de USA” in support of Torres and Moreno, while Twitter users have been highlighting their plight with the hashtags #PorUnErrordeUSA and #SergioYJulioInocentes. Speaking to Spanish-language daily Milenio earlier this week, Torres’ mother Roselia Duarte pleaded for executive intervention, urging President Enrique Peña Nieto to “help us, because we have seen that justice does not exist.”

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Eddn permalink
    August 24, 2013 16:24

    Boys will be boys .
    How is this car made it back to Mexico past border inspection ? And through the USA side and Mexico side missed the drugs returning to Mexico ?
    Dot take me wrong the boys may have not. Known?
    I’m from USA and here we understand corruption in Mexico ?
    All over money pay the system will realize the sons?.
    patently this is a mistake ?
    I’m sure the boys were drug tested I asume did they pass ? Must be more to this
    After seeing change.org I search for more facts

  2. September 13, 2013 03:39

    coach 財布 2013

Trackbacks

  1. Still no justice for Tapatio teens | The Tequila Files
  2. Free at last: Tapatio teens absolved of drugs charges | The Tequila Files

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