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Jesuits stay in Mexican mountains after monks’ killings

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Two months after a pair of Jesuit monks have been killed in a distant mountain group in northern Mexico, the suspected killer stays on the free and townspeople are frightened, however the spiritual order says it isn’t leaving.

The killings of Javier Campos and Joaquín Mora, in addition to a tourism information they tried to shelter, stirred anger in Mexico and the Roman Catholic Church. Frustration has grown with failure to seize the suspect, the alleged chief of a neighborhood drug gang, José Portillo Gil, alias “El Chueco,” or “The Crooked One.”

Two monks who survived the assault stay on the parish in Cerocahui within the Tarahumara Mountains of Chihuahua state, however now transfer about with army escorts.

Regardless of the killings and persevering with security issues, the Jesuit order dismissed any thought of closing its mission there. It’s sending two extra monks and an individual finding out for the priesthood, mentioned Jorge González Candia, an advisor with the Roman Catholic Society of Jesus in Mexico, who was assigned to the case.

“We noticed very clearly that we couldn’t withdraw as a result of concern or insecurity that exists,” González mentioned.

Tensions rose in Cerocahui after a video circulated on social media final week of a masked particular person who recognized himself as Portillo Gil. The person denied being chargeable for the killings, mentioned he knew what actually occurred and appeared to make a veiled menace towards one of many surviving monks.

González mentioned it was “unimaginable” that 1,000 troopers and 200 nationwide guardsmen deployed to the realm had not been capable of finding Portillo Gil. A reward of about $250,000 was supplied.

“After that video, we’re asking for protecting measures,” González mentioned. There’s concern among the many Jesuits that the gang might assault their folks within the space, one thing that had not beforehand occurred throughout their a long time working with Indigenous communities in these mountains.

Portillo Gil already had a pending arrest order, however had continued to roam the area with impunity. He was additionally accused within the 2018 killing of Patrick Braxton-Andrew, a 34-year-old Spanish instructor from North Carolina who was touring within the Tarahumara Mountains. Portillo Gil’s gang apparently suspected Braxton-Andrew of being a U.S. drug agent.

Portillo Gil’s gang is believed to be tied to the Los Salazar, which is related to the Sinaloa cartel.

After the killings, the army arrange a base within the space. Troopers now accompany the Jesuits as they journey within the space.

González Candia mentioned the 2 surviving monks who stayed in Cerocahui had requested to take action as a result of “there’s a love of the land, the tradition, the folks and so they additionally see the necessity to accompany the mourning.” Nevertheless, he mentioned the order continues to guage their scenario.

Requested if capturing Portillo Gil would resolve the crime issues within the area, González Candia mentioned it had been seen elsewhere that “whenever you solely catch a boss, the felony teams multiply, the variety of crimes will increase and the prisons refill.”

Investigation, change to native buildings and political will are wanted to make the adjustments that can generate peace, he mentioned.

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