Missing Italians sold by Mexican police: Families claim

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Mexico City, Feb 27 (IANS) The families of three Italians who disappeared on January 31 from Mexico’s Jalisco state have claimed that they were sold by the police to a criminal gang for 1,000 pesos ($53).

A person known as Don Angel, who is allegedly linked to the organised criminal group, is believed to have met the Italians and paid Tecatitlan municipality police officers for their handover, Francesco Russo, the son of Raffaele Russo — one of the three missing persons — told Efe news.

“(Angel) is the name that came up in the hearing when the police confessed to having received 1,000 pesos,” Francesco said.

Four officers from Tecatitlan, in southern Jalisco, were arrested on Saturday after they confessed to handing over Raffaele Russo, his son Antonio Russo and nephew Vincenzo Cimmino, to members of a criminal group.

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The Secretary-General of the Jalisco government, Roberto Lopez Lara, said the policemen of three other municipalities and several civilians were also being investigated over possible links to the incident.

Lopez Lara said the search for the three missing people was ongoing, and that there was no way to determine whether they were still alive.

The family of the three Italians reported them missing on February 1.

In a statement, Francesco Russo urged the authorities to speed up the search and investigation, and called for the arrest of Tecatitlan police chief Hugo Enrique Martinez — who has been on the run since last week — and Hilario Farias Mejia, the senior official who was on duty on January 31.

“We ask with all our hearts that you pursue the investigation to find our relatives as quickly as possible. We want them to be returned to Italy, dead or alive,” Francesco said.

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