Mexican is reeling in horror after six teen boys aged 14 to 18 were found slaughtered at a remote ranch in the central state of Zacatecas – with security forces locating just one survivor.
The surviving teenager, identified as Sergio Acevedo, 18, and the other young men were found at a farm in Malpaso, a neighborhood in the municipality of the Villanueva, during a flight surveillance operation on Wednesday morning.
The victims have been identified as: Diego Rodríguez, 17; Jorge Ocon, 14 and his cousin Héctor Salcedo, 14; Gumaro Santacruz, 18; Oscar Rojas, 15; and Jesús Rodríguez, 18.
Acevedo suffered a head and nose wound, and was rushed to Zacatecas General Hospital in the state capital, where he is being guarded by police, the Zacatecas Attorney General’s Office said Wednesday afternoon.
The horrifying discovery comes amid a shocking rise in mass abductions in Mexico – and just weeks after five college students were brutally murdered by cartel thugs, with one victim forced to decapitate his childhood friend.
Authorities in the central Mexico state of Zacatecas located Sergio Acevedo on a farm on Wednesday. The 18-year-old is the only survivor among the seven teenagers who were kidnapped from a ranch in the Zacatecas municipality of Villanueva on Sunday
Six teens were found dead at a ranch in Zacatecas on Wednesday, just three days after they were kidnapped. Pictured top row from left to right: Diego Rodríguez, Jorge Ocon and Héctor Salcedo. Pictured bottom row from left to right: Gumaro Santacruz, Oscar Rojas and Jesús Rodríguez
Security forces inspect the farm area where the bodies of six teenagers and a survivor were found Wednesday
Survivor Acevedo is stable and under the supervision of a psychologist, authorities said.
He told his mother, Karla Rodríguez, that ‘he had done nothing wrong,’ according to Mexican news outlet Milenio.
‘Yes, he recognizes me, but he has no idea of time right now, maybe it’s because of the beatings, I don’t know,’ Rodríguez said. ‘He said that he is not up to bad things, he said: ‘I have not done anything wrong.’ I told him: ‘I know, my son, I know.’
She also denied comments made by Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who told reporters that Acevedo had been interviewed by investigators.
‘It’s not true, my son has not said anything, he is not well right now, he is sedated,’ she said, as quoted by El Zol de Zacatecas newspaper. ‘He has not declared anything nor has he spoken to anyone other than me.’
The youngsters, who attended school and are not believed to be involved in gangs, were hanging out with a group of girls when a group of armed men raided a ranch in the neighborhood of La Soledad on Sunday around 5am.
The property is located just 1,600 feet from a public security regional station.
The teenagers were forced into vehicles, beaten and abandoned at a ranch nine miles away in the neighborhood of Malpaso.
The teens were abducted Sunday from a ranch where they were hanging with female friends Sunday morning. A law enforcement source told Mexican news outlet Reforma that members of the Sinaloa Cartel were involved in the abduction. At least six people have been arrested
Law enforcement sources said the teenagers were kidnapped by Sinaloa cartel, which is at war with rivals over control of federal highway 54 that links Jalisco with the Pacific Ocean, according to news outlet Reforma.
Zacatecas ministry of public security deployed 10 units consisting of 300 agents to search for the victims.
Parents and friends of the missing teenagers blocked access to two highways on Tuesday in a bid to pressure authorities to speed up the search.
The parents returned Wednesday to block another road and were there for an hour before they were informed of the findings.
Authorities have arrested at least six people in connection with the kidnappings and murders.
‘What happened in Zacatecas with the young people is regrettable,’ Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Funeral services were held for all of the victims on Thursday.
One of Gumero Santacruz’s family members, Jennifer, posted a tribute online that said: ‘We will always remember you as the great person you were. You were a very good child with a big heart and that will always stay with us. Fly high. More flowers are coming to you now.’
The families have also expressed frustration with Zacatecas officials, accusing them of holding back details of the ongoing investigation into the teenagers’ deaths.
‘I haven’t even seen. I don’t want to see them because they haven’t shown their faces,’ the father of Jorgo Ocon told Milenio.
A police cruiser performs surveillance of the ranch where the bodies of six teenagers and one survivor were located Wednesday, following their kidnapping from a farm Sunday morning
The incident is the latest tragic outcome in the wake of mass abductions of young people this year.
In August, a gruesome video circulated on social media showing the last moments of five young men kidnapped in the neighboring state of Jalisco.
In the video, a pair of bound, inert bodies are seen lying in the foreground. A youth seen bludgeoning and apparently decapitating another victim appears to be himself the fourth member of the kidnapped group of friends.
At the height of Mexico’s drug cartel brutality in the 2010s, gangs sometimes forced kidnap victims to kill each other. In 2010, one Mexican cartel abducted men from passenger buses and forced them to fight each other to death with sledgehammers.
In May, as many as eight young workers were killed in Jalisco after they apparently tried to quit jobs at a call center operated by a violent drug cartel that targeted Americans in a real estate scam.
Zacatecas is among Mexico’s most violent states where rival criminal gangs regularly clash over lucrative smuggling routes.
During the first eight months of this year, more than 500 people were murdered in the state, according to government data.