There is apparently no limit to the depravity of Mexican criminals. Terrorizing innocent little kids for money is part of their thug portfolio these days: Mexican schools close as children are threatened [AP, December 13, 2008] .
Across Ciudad Juarez, parents and students are stricken by reports of kidnapping and extortion threats, starting with a sign that appeared Nov. 12 on the front door of another school, the Elena Garro kindergarten, demanding: "Either give us your bonuses, or we will start to kidnap the children."
Police removed it before the children arrived.
Some speculate that cartels now are targeting schools to supplement income with the Mexican government's crackdown on drug trafficking, much as they've already extorted businesses. Others say common criminals are trying to cash in on the fear that pervades border cities, where terrified residents are seeing ever more brutal murders — more than 1,300 so far this year in Ciudad Juarez.
It may be that the criminals in this case are knuckle-dragger opportuninsts with no intention of actually kidnapping kids and are just trying to make some easy money. But that would be a foolish assumption. Kidnapping is a low-investment crime that requires little equipment — a van, some duct tape and a spare room can put a Mexican crime entrepreneur in business, and plenty have. However, for all its simplicity, kidnapping is a tremendously cruel crime that results in a terrorized population when it is practiced as commonly as it is in Mexico.
In a reminder of the heartbreak which some Mexican families have endured (just a few months after the brutal case of 14-year-old Fernando Marti being snatched and killed), a young victim — Silvia Vargas (pictured) — has been found dead a year after being kidnapped: Mexico Kidnapping Death Stokes Outrage [Washington Post, Dec 14, 2008].
MEXICO CITY, Dec. 14 — Her mother asked that mourners wear white, so the memorial service Saturday for Silvia Vargas Escalera seemed less grim than the circumstances surrounding one of Mexico's most notorious kidnappings.
The body of the wealthy and vivacious Mexico City teenager was found last weekend buried under a patio in a house south of the city. She had been missing for more than a year. Her remains were identified by dental records and DNA on Thursday.
The abduction and killing of the 18-year-old student, whose fresh young face had been ubiquitous in the news media here for months, have stoked outrage and revulsion in Mexico. The public is frustrated not only by waves of violent and often organized crime, but also by the government's inability to solve cases and put the guilty behind bars.
Many people, too, are afraid of the kidnapping crews, which no longer limit their targets to the super-rich, and travel in armored cars and with bodyguards. Kidnappers now snatch middle-class and even poor victims, demanding as little as $500 in ransom for their return.
What a horror. For one twisted symptom of how Mexicans adjust to the unacceptable, see this item about bullet-proof clothing, etc.: Crime fears drive Mexicans' increase of extreme security measures.