Mexico mass kidnap linked to vendetta

Mexico City authorities said Monday vengeance was the motive behind the kidnapping of 12 young people who were apparently killed the day of their brazen abduction from a bar in May.

The city's top prosecutor, Rodolfo Rios, said a seventh suspect was detained last week and admitted that 12 people were taken from a downtown bar in broad daylight as a "reprisal" for the killing of a drug dealer.

The case took a grim turn last week when authorities discovered a concrete-covered grave on a ranch 30 kilometers (19 miles) southeast of the capital that contained the remains of 13 people, raising fears they might all be there.

The mother of a victim said federal officials told families on Sunday that the bodies of 10 people from the Heaven bar were identified. Officials have only confirmed five so far and are continuing DNA testing.

The case has tarnished the capital's image as an oasis from the kidnappings and mass murders committed by drug cartels in the northern border states and the west.

Most of the kidnap victims hail from the city's rough Tepito neighborhood, known for a huge contraband market, and two of them are sons of men jailed for being part of criminal groups.

Relatives insist that none of the 12 missing was involved in criminal activities.

Rios told a news conference that the suspect, Victor Manuel Aguilera Garcia, told investigators that the abductors took the 12 young people to the municipality of Tlalmanalco, where the ranch is located, the day of the kidnapping on May 26.

He later told Radio Formula that, according to preliminary reports, they were apparently killed "immediately" after the kidnapping. Autopsies will determine the cause and time of death but the bodies appear to be three months old, he said.

Ricardo Martinez, an attorney for the victims' families, told the same radio station that the bodies unearthed last week "are not complete, they were cut up," with some separated from their heads. Decapitations are more common in cartel-dominated regions.

Rios said the kidnapping was linked to a dispute between small local gangs known as La Union and Los Tepis, which operates in Tepito, and denied that cartels were involved.

The latest suspect in the case told investigators that the "motive for the kidnapping was a reprisal for the murder" of Horacio Vite, a drug dealer who had been gunned down in the trendy Condesa district two days earlier, Rios said.

"The Heaven case is an issue of control over drug dealing, which is different than organized crime," he said.

Security experts say city authorities are in denial and should accept that organized crime groups exist in the megalopolis.