07/20/12 – A brutal attack on a group comprised largely of teenagers camping outside Mexico City has provoked significant public outcry and prompted the state police to act quickly to investigate. About 90 people were camping in the Colibri ecological park–located near the town of Ixtapaluca, a suburb of Mexico City located in the state of Mexico (Estado de México, Edmox)–on July 12 when an 11-person gang stormed into the site, firing shots into the air. The attackers were armed with a variety of weapons and proceeded to assault the group, who were participating in an overnight Christian retreat. The attack resulted in seven females raped–at least three of whom were minors–, another five people beaten, and cash and goods, including two cars, stolen. Although the cars were eventually recovered by police, the journal Impacto estimated the loss of cash and goods originally taken at approximately $10,000 (USD). The group had apparently arranged for police patrols in the area during their stay, but it appears that there was not a police presence in the park during the time of the attack because the authorities did not learn of the events until one of the adult organizers was able to reach a local police station. Calls for help were hampered by the park’s hilly geographical layout, which also has poor cell phone coverage.
Yesterday, the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico State (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado de México, PGJEM) announced the arrest of 17 people in conjunction with the attack. The operation was undertaken jointly between the Secretary of Citizen Safety (Secretaría de Seguridad Ciudadana, SSC) and the state police. Of the detained, there are two women and 15 men, including three policemen and one former member of the military. El Occidental reports that the perpetrators belonged to a local gang called “Los Cadenos” and that items belonging to the campers and reported missing were found in the homes of those arrested. The Attorney General of the state of Mexico, Alfredo Castillo Cervantes, went on to state that six people had already confessed to the crime and that 11 of the people arrested had been identified by eyewitnesses. This case of swift justice is notable given that Amnesty International recently reported that the state of Mexico has one of the worst human rights records within the country, and that on average police are able to solve one out of 21 rapes in the region.
The area is within the territory of a variety of drug cartels but in general it is unaffiliated criminal gangs who prey on campers. There have been scattered attacks on campers in the park by small scale criminal groups in the recent months.