PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Coahuila — Two members of Los Zetas Cartel were given lengthy prison sentences for their roles in the disappearance and likely incineration of various victims in this border city.
During a sentencing hearing in Piedras Negras, a judge gave Santiago Peralta Garcia 75 years in prison and Miguel Elguezabal Hernandez 50, on the charge of aggravated disappearance. The charge deals with the disappearance of seven victims who are believed murdered, incinerated, and their remains disposed of at a local river on December 8, 2011. Since authorities were not able to recover bodies of their victims, they charged the members of Los Zetas with aggravated disappearance.
The victims were all members of a family that was kidnapped, murdered, and incinerated inside the prison’s carpentry yard. The ashes of the seven victims were later dumped in the San Rodrigo River in the rural community of El Moral.
The border city of Piedras Negras is immediately south of Eagle Pass, Texas, and has long been considered a lucrative smuggling route used by Los Zetas.
As Breitbart Texas reported after a three-month investigation in early 2016, Los Zetas gunmen kidnapped, murdered, and incinerated more that 300 victims from the rural communities in northern Coahuila between 2011 and 2013. Approximately half of those victims were incinerated inside the state prison in Piedras Negras. The multiple atrocities carried out by Los Zetas were covered up by state authorities at the highest levels, but have since come to light. As Breitbart Texas reported, court documents and testimony in U.S. Federal trials revealed that key Los Zetas bosses would pay regular bribes to state officials at all levels in Coahuila–allegedly including the governor’s office.
In addition to the incineration of at least 150 victims inside the prison, in September 2012, Los Zetas staged a brazen escape where 132 inmates fled with help from law enforcement inside the detention center. Not until early 2014 did state authorities look into the events at the facility.
One of the leading Los Zetas commanders tied to the atrocities inside the prison, David Alejandro “Diablo” Loreto Mejorado, was confirmed killed in a shootout with authorities in 2013. Two other Zetas identified as Ramon Burciaga Magallanes and Francisco Javier Velez Bertaud were convicted and await sentencing.
Editor’s Note: Breitbart Texas traveled to the Mexican States of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Nuevo León to recruit citizen journalists willing to risk their lives and expose the cartels silencing their communities. The writers would face certain death at the hands of the various cartels that operate in those areas including the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas if a pseudonym were not used. Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles are published in both English and in their original Spanish. This article was written by Coahuila’s “J.M. Martinez”.