NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico – A group of Mexican police officers were questioned Friday over claims they kidnapped three U.S. siblings who were found dead in the northeast of the country near the U.S. border.
Nine agents tasked with providing security for the mayor of the town of Control, Leticia Salazar, were ordered make statements to the top prosecutor of Tamaulipas state, an official told AFP.
The officers form part of the so-called Hercules Group, a specialist unit in the nearby city of Matamoros, the scene of battles between the warring Zetas and Gulf drug cartels over the control of lucrative drug routes to the United States.
The father of the victims has identified his daughter and two sons — all in their 20s — although the bodies were badly decomposed when found Wednesday.
The three siblings were U.S. citizens of Mexican origin. They had crossed the border from Texas to visit their father.
The parents had said their children were kidnapped on Oct. 13 by armed men in the town of Control.
Salazar, the mayor, gave the prosecutor a list of police officers who were operating a highway checkpoint in the area on the day of their disappearance.
She has said she is willing to cooperate with the investigation.
The victims are believed to be 26-year-old Erica Alvarado Rivera and her brothers Alex, 22, and José Ángel, 21. Their identities are to be confirmed through DNA analysis.
The bodies, which were left to rot more than two weeks in the open, were found bound hand and foot with shots to the head, Tamaulipas state attorney general Ismael Quintanilla said.
The grisly discovery comes as Mexican investigators hunt for 43 students who went missing more than a month ago in violence involving police and drug gang hitmen in the south of the country.
The case has shocked Mexico — a country weary of years of mostly drug gang-linked violent crime — and brought thousands to the streets demanding justice.
About 80,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006. Another 22,000 people are missing.