Joaquín César Mora Salazar and Javier Campos Morales, the Jesuit priests who were assassinated in Urique, Chihuahua, this Monday.RR.
The governor of Chihuahua, Maru Campos, announced this Wednesday afternoon that the bodies of the two Jesuit priests and the tourist guide riddled with bullets on Monday inside the Cerocahui church, in the heart of the Sierra Tarahumara, have been located. .
According to official information, a group of criminals led by José Noriel Portillo Gil, alias
broke into the temple on Monday afternoon and first murdered Pedro Palma, 60, a well-known tour guide in the area, and then, to the priests who ran to help him, Javier Campos, 79, and Joaquín Mora, 80. The criminals dragged their bodies into a truck and fled.
The three men were missing as of Wednesday.
Important message from the Governor of the State, from Cerocahui, municipality of Urique.
– Maru Campos (@MaruCampos_G) June 22, 2022
The national and international outrage of the Jesuit community, which has even included the condemnation of Pope Francis this Wednesday, has pressured the State Prosecutor's Office to locate the bodies of the two priests who had spent almost a lifetime working in one of the poorest areas and marginal of Mexico.
"Thanks to an extraordinary effort by the State Attorney General's Office, commanded by teacher Roberto Fierro, we have managed to locate and recover -and this has been verified by forensic medicine- the bodies of Jesuit priests Javier Campos, Joaquín Mora and tourist guide Pedro Palma”, Campos pointed out in a statement released through his social networks.
The son of the tourist guide Pedro Palma, Ricardo, told EL PAÍS this Tuesday that he received a call on Monday from a colleague of his father notifying him of what had happened.
“While they were having dinner at the Misión Cerocahui hotel of Balderrama hotels, an armed group broke in and took him and a group of tourists.
We don't know how many, or who," he explained through WhatsApp, on his way to Mexico.
He was in Barcelona when he received the notice about his father.
The son is a doctor and is doing a specialty in a Spanish hospital.
that he was driving was left outside the hotel, abandoned," added Palma.
Despite these claims, the Prosecutor's Office has not linked the kidnapping of the four people, supposedly tourists, with the murder of the guide and the two priests.
Pedro Palma was a tour guide with more than 40 years of experience in the Sierra Tarahumara.
“He was born in the community of Teporachi and at the age of 12 he emigrated to the United States to be able to support his mother and his brothers,” says his son.
Later he returned and set up a tourist business with his wife.
And he went on to work for international agencies like Grand Circle Travel, Caravan Tours and American Orient Express.
"He always supported both the Children's Home in Chihuahua, and the Tarahumara schools in the mountains," his son told this newspaper in an interview.
Jesuit priests Javier Campos and Joaquín Mora knew the mountains like the back of their hand.
Campos, 79 years old and born in Mexico City, was the superior of the order in the region, where he had been since he was 30. He was going to complete 50 years of work in this area of the Sierra Tarahumara, plagued by organized crime and which However, he did not want to give up.
He used to wear cowboy boots to walk comfortably on the dirt roads and was seen even in the most remote communities.
Mora, 81, born in Monterrey, had been in the area for 23 years and was dressed in blue jeans and a plaid shirt.
He was calmer than Campos and spoke worse Rarámuri, but he is also remembered as a great missionary.
On the trail of El Chueco
The announcement came shortly after the State Prosecutor's Office offered a historic reward in Chihuahua of five million pesos (about $250,000) for anyone who gave a clue to the whereabouts of the main suspect in the triple crime: José Noriel Portillo Gil, aka
No authority has explained, however, how it has been possible to recover the bodies, which had been dragged by the criminals in a truck and who sought to add to the tragedy of the more than 100,000 disappeared in the country.
Neither where nor how they found the bodies.
And neither if there is any detainee after this discovery.
According to the information provided on Tuesday by the Prosecutor's Office, on June 20, in addition to the murder of the three men, there was the kidnapping and disappearance of four more people.
Two men, a woman and a minor, of whom the authorities have not reported any progress in the investigation.
Nor have they indicated whether these disappearances are related to the triple crime of the Cerocahui church.
The Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador reported this Wednesday that it has sent Army soldiers to participate in the search for the bodies and the capture of El Chueco, whom they consider a leader of the local drug trafficker, accused of homicide and organized crime.
“An investigation is being carried out, there are already elements from the Ministry of National Defense, which acted immediately, there is a search.
The person responsible, the murderer, has already been identified, and we are going to continue with the investigations,” said the president.
El Chueco is a local narco leader who has been strong in the Tarahumara mountains for years, without an authority having curbed his power and is linked to the Sinaloa cartel, according to official reports.
In October 2018 he was the main suspect in the murder of an American professor Patrick Braxton-Andrews, who according to official information was shot after being mistaken for a DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Agency) agent.
And his name then became famous in each of the isolated municipalities of the mountains.
No one was unaware that he was the owner of the heart of the Tarahumara: in San Rafael, Ciénega de Trejo, Guadalupe Coronado, Mesa de Arturo, Cerocahui and Bahuichivo.
Portillo's men control the planting and transfer of drugs in the region, whose impossible and isolated terrain makes it difficult for the authorities to review them without being identified by the criminals.
They have also harassed indigenous people to take away their land, causing the displacement of hundreds of people.
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