Influential PAN leader kidnapped from his ranch in Querétaro

In the most recent case of apparent aggression against politicians, “El Jefe,” Diego Fernández de Cevallos, disappeared in Querétaro on May 16, sparking a multi-state search, spanning Querétaro, México, Hidalgo and Guanajuato. His car was found at his ranch with some evidence of violence, but investigators have been slow to reach conclusions about the motives behind the kidnapping. Fernández, a former senator, was the 1994 presidential candidate for the National Action Party (Partido de Acción Nacional, PAN), and has remained an influential member of the party since. It remains unclear whether he was taken by ransom-seeking kidnappers, or by drug traffickers. Some fear that it could be a move by drug trafficking organizations to ramp up their assault on the Mexican state, by demonstrating through the abduction of a high-profile lawyer, politician, and friend to President Calderón that nobody is beyond their reach.

A week after Fernández’ disappearance, investigators still had not determined who took him, as his aggressors had made no attempt to contact his family or authorities with demands. Mexican civilian and military intelligence organizations have requested the help of the U.S. FBI and DEA in sharing intelligence that may be pertinent to Fernández’ disappearance. While little is still known about the incident, it has been determined that Fernández was carrying around $100,000 MEX (about $8,000 USD) in his pocket, had a handgun strapped to his belt, and put up resistance at the time of his abduction. Investigators, however, still have not announced whether the blood found in Fernández’ car was his or from one of his aggressors.

The federal Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) has reportedly suspended its investigation, citing the wishes of Fernández’ family, which it said fears that a continued investigation could endanger any possible negotiations for his release. Nevertheless, the ranch where Fernández disappeared remains under custody of state and federal police.

SOURCES:

Rodríguez, Olga R. “Ex-candidate’s disappearance rattles Mexico.” Associated Press May 16 2010.

Méndez, Alfredo. “Se pide apoyo a DEA y FBI para localizar a Fernández de Cevallos.” La Jornada May 20, 2010.

Arreola, Juan José. “PGR cesa indagatoria en el caso Diego.” El Universal May 23, 2010.

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