Last Sunday, a group of men disappeared after they were fired upon by gunmen in the streets of San José de Gracia in the Mexican state of Michoacán. Witnesses recorded the incident on video and posted it on social media platforms, sparking outrage and concern across Mexico.
Local authorities believe the crime resulted from a clash between two competing cells of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), a drug-trafficking organization. On Tuesday, the police charged CJNG member Abel N. (also known as “El Viejón” or “El Toro”) for the massacre. The number of victims and the whereabouts of the victims’ bodies is still unknown.
Although these crimes are not new for Mexico, a country with 100,000 official disappearances, the incident marks the first time bystanders captured a disappearance on video with such clarity. The ensuing outrage prompted a back-and-forth exchange between current President Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador and former Presidents Felipe Calderón and Vicente Fox. Both former presidents criticized Lopéz Obrador’s “hugs and not bullets” policy for contributing to cartel violence. López Obrador defended his approach, arguing for policies that would provide opportunities to young people who would otherwise join criminal groups.