The brazen kidnapping of a school teacher by hooded gunmen reveals the level of impunity in which criminal organizations operate in the embattled state of Veracruz. The victim, Amparo Hermelita Armenta Gallegos, 31, was taken on January 30 in central Pánuco, according to surveillance cameras.
Security footage released on social media and reported by local news outlets shows the moment when a team of gunmen in two cars surround the victim’s vehicle, which was parked in front of her residence. The victim had just pulled out of her driveway and parked on the street to close the double doors leading into her driveway. A total of four suspects get out of two vehicles and kidnap the victim after chasing her onto her property as she tried to flee. The victim is then forced into the back of a vehicle and the kidnappers speed away, abandoning one of the cars they arrived in. The entire incident occurs in roughly 35 seconds.
The whereabouts of the victim are currently unknown and authorities or the family have not made a public statement with further details.
It is not uncommon for kidnapping cases to be handled privately or without police assistance. It is known in Mexico that families with financial resources hire anti-kidnapping experts to negotiate the release of loved ones; the problem with this arrangement is that kidnappers are allowed to re-offend. These practices spread due to a lack of trust with police and fears of repercussions visited upon victims if kidnappers were alerted to heat.
Veracruz is experiencing daily acts of cartel violence as rival groups fight for valuable territory. End of year (2017) crime statistics indicate the state reported the second-most kidnappings in the country with a total of 172 and scored fifth in homicides at 2,385, according to Mexico City.
The violence in Veracruz is attributed to the strong presences of Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación and various factions of Los Zetas.
Breitbart Texas recently reported that authorities disclosed 343 mass graves in the state over the past seven years and are believed to be linked to cartels.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)