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The black hole of violence in Mexico: an American and three Mexican women disappear in Zacatecas

With the voice of a father who is determined to find his daughters, without a hint of despair or sadness, Daniel Márquez Valdés says: “If those who have kidnapped them are listening to me, I just want to tell them to leave them, to return them to us. House”. His daughters, Daniela and Viviana, as well as Paola Vargas and José Melesio Gutiérrez, disappeared on December 25 in Víboras, Zacatecas, eight kilometers from the border with Jalisco. The sisters lived there and Gutiérrez was staying these days, who had come from the United States to visit Daniela, his girlfriend of three years. Everything was going well until they crossed into Zacatecas, a state besieged by drug traffickers. These are usually the protagonists of murders, kidnappings and shootings that almost always go unpunished, despite the increasing efforts of the authorities to pacify the region.

Before disappearing completely from the radar, at 11:41 p.m. on December 25, Daniela sent her mother the location of the mobile. It was on Highway 23, at the height of the Víboras community, in Zacatecas. They came from Jerez de García Salinas, an hour from Colotlán, the town where the family resides. They had gone there to spend the afternoon with friends and to have dinner. Daniel does not explain it to him: “Where is the freedom of young people to move and enjoy?”

When he and his wife saw that their daughter’s location was off the road, they became concerned. They tried to contact, but there was no way. “She didn’t read the messages and when we started calling everyone in the car, no one answered,” he recounts. They wanted to go to the place, but the police told them that “it was very dangerous” and they did not go until the afternoon of the following day, after filing the complaint. “My brother, Paola’s father and I got together, and we went there. But there was nothing when we arrived, it was a desolate area”, Daniel says by phone.

Above the image of the four disappeared uploaded to Twitter, the Zacatecas Prosecutor’s Office wrote this message: “We request your valuable collaboration for their location.” A sober message that reveals the state of things in a region overwhelmed by drug violence. On November 24 of last year, Josué Urzúa Padilla, in charge of the National Guard in Zacatecas, was assassinated. Shortly after, on December 3, a group of armed men attacked Judge Roberto Elías Martínez in the city of Guadalupe. The judge passed away the next day. On December 9, two bodies wrapped in garbage bags appeared next to state highway 181, near the community of San Jerónimo. And so, until counting 755 disappeared in Zacatecas in 2022.

The members of the disappeared family: Paola Vargas, Viviana Márquez, Daniela Márquez and José Melesio Gutiérrez.
The members of the disappeared family: Paola Vargas, Viviana Márquez, Daniela Márquez and José Melesio Gutiérrez.RR.SS.

The deployment after the disappearance has been important. Police patrols go through the area without rest and, from the sky, several helicopters probe the terrain. The family, however, has not received any information regarding the whereabouts of the four young people 10 days after their disappearance. “Nothing, the Prosecutor’s Office has not given us any response on the progress of the investigation,” says Alejandra. She had been with her cousins ​​the day she disappeared, in the morning, before returning to Mexico City. Now her anger continues to increase, and she speaks quickly and decisively. “I feel outraged, hysterical, full of rage, impotence. We have appeared in some reports and media, but we still do not have them, ”she says.

The residents of Colotlán came out this Monday to demonstrate at the Glorieta de las y los Desaparecidos in Guadalajara, capital of Jalisco, to demand that the violence on the northern border of the State be stopped. “Isn’t that father? Don’t you understand the pain we are experiencing? Please, Governor, face what we are experiencing, do not let us down, ”shouted a woman with a megaphone in front of the official headquarters of the Government, headed by Enrique Alfaro, according to a local newspaper. The governor of Jalisco, however, has preferred to disclaim any responsibility regarding the kidnapping. He says and repeats that this occurred when the victims were already in Zacatecas, the true focus of the problem.

“There is already an operation deployed to support the search, but it is important that people know that it is a crime that happened in the State of Zacatecas,” insisted the ruler. “In the municipalities of the northern zone of Jalisco we had a calm situation at the end of the year, but on the border with Zacatecas we are going to have to make some adjustments because, although there is progress, we still have to reinforce,” Ramírez reported in a round table. press. Adolfo Marín, head of the Secretary of Security of the neighboring State, assured that “special devices are going to be set up to deal with insecurity in the area.”

They were getting married this year. They already had until the date for the wedding: October 7, 2023. Then a three-year romance between Daniela Márquez and José Melesio Gutiérrez would culminate. She is 31 years old, with light brown hair, “brown and large” eyes and no particular signs, according to the disappearance certificate issued by the Zacatecas Prosecutor’s Office. He is 36 years old, is a Mexican national, but lives and works in an architectural firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. He also has brown eyes, but “boys”, not big like his girlfriend’s, and a particular sign: a scar below the right knee of about 8 centimeters. Her relatives say that Gutiérrez traveled to Colotlán at least three times a year. “He came with the desire to come with us, to be with the family and take a walk with his girlfriend, as he had done on other occasions,” says Daniel.

Daniela is an interior designer, has her own business and works on commissions throughout the region. Irma Paola Vargas, 27, with a tattoo of a black heart as big as a fingernail on the upper part of her neck, is a fashion designer, who works selling clothes and accessories. Viviana Márquez, Daniela’s 28-year-old sister, is a professional make-up artist, “well known,” says her cousin. Her father had to go to Zacatecas to report his disappearance, and for this he had to travel the same highway 23 where his daughter disappeared. “She feels that bad vibe, because of what has happened there, but there is no other, we have to keep going until we find them,” Daniel says.

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