Crime and Violence

Federal Police arrest four suspected in Silvia Vargas kidnapping, murder

Two weeks after announcing they had captured those responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Fernando Martí last month, the Federal Police announced in late July it had detained four men responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Silvia Vargas, the daughter of Mexico’s top sports official until 2006. The deaths of the two children led to massive public demonstrations late last year.

According to the Federal Police’s coordinator of crime prevention, the four men belong to the kidnapping band Los Rojos. One of the four men detained, Candido Ortiz, is the alleged leader of the group, and has apparently been identified by Silvia’s father Nelson Vargas as the man who demanded a ransom from him. The captors broke off communication before the ransom could be paid, and the family went public with the kidnapping in August 2008. Silvia’s body was found in a grave three months later. Along with Candido Ortiz, the Federal Police arrested his brother Miguel, and two other men. The suspects range from 21 to 49 years old. Days after the arrest of the four suspects, another Ortiz brother, Raúl, was captured in Mexico City. Raúl was the last of four Ortiz brothers to remain free, after escaping from a hospital hours after his arrest in December 2008.

Nelson Vargas has praised the efforts of the Federal Police, while criticizing the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) for not following up on the revelation in November 2008 that Óscar Ortiz, a member of Los Rojos, worked for the family for two years as a chauffeur and lived in the family’s home during that time. He also criticized the PGR for not obtaining information on the source of phone calls from the kidnappers or investigating the truck from which Silvia was kidnapped.

According to civil groups, kidnappings in Mexico remain high. The group Mexico United against Crime reported early this month that the rate of kidnappings over the past five years is up 154 percent from the previous five. Furthermore, the group reports a nine percent increase between August 2008 and April of this year. Nevertheless, only 10 states – Campeche, Chihuahua, the Federal District, Guanajuato, Morelos, Nayarit, San Luis Potosí, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz have created special police units for combating kidnappings. The federal government reports an average of 97 kidnappings per month, but the actual number is likely much higher given the rates of impunity in such crimes and the common fear by family members that police are themselves involved in the crimes.

From the Justice in Mexico Project’s August Monthly News Report:


de la Luz González, María. “Se perdió tiempo por desacreditar nuestra investigación: Nelson.” El Universal July 28, 2009.

“Detiene PF a 4 presuntos plagiarios y homicidas de Silvia Vargas.” La Jornada July 28, 2009.

“Secuestros en México se elevan en 154 por ciento.” Prensa Latina August 3, 2009.

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