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Months After Nightclub Kidnappings, Bodies Found In Mexico

Aug 26, 2013
Originally published on August 27, 2013 4:30 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Mexican officials say they've identified five more bodies found in a mass grave outside the capital. The dead were among a group of 12 young people kidnapped from a nightclub three months ago. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, the case has rocked Mexico City, once considered an oasis from the country's brutal drug war.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Among the latest bodies identified was a 16-year-old boy and his 19-year-old friend. Both come from one of Mexico City's toughest neighborhoods, Tepito. And both of their fathers are in jail on various organized crime charges.

The attorney general in Mexico City said today that the kidnapping was in retaliation for a string of murders between two rival drug-dealing gangs operating in some of the trendiest neighborhoods in the city, and it was not the work of major cartels. Police have stepped up surveillance in those neighborhoods, including Tepito...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

KAHN: ...which is infamous for its outdoor market teeming with all types of contraband, from TOMS shoes to pirated blockbuster movies.

CYNTHIA: (Foreign language spoken)

KAHN: This woman, who only gave her first name, Cynthia, says since the discovery of the Heaven's Bar bodies, it's been tense in Tepito. A federal investigator told the Associated Press that dealers from Tepito have been encroaching on the territory of the Union of Insurgents gang that cater to the lucrative drug trade in the city's high-end nightlife. The mass kidnapping was a warning.

The 12 victims, ranging in ages from 16 to 34, were kidnapped in May from an all-night club in the city's Zona Rosa, just blocks from the U.S. Embassy. Relatives of the victims deny any links to organized crime. They say local authorities have been more concerned about protecting the city's image as a haven from drug war violence than seeking justice. Federal authorities discovered the mass grave last week in a rural town east of the capital that is popular with criminal gangs.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.