Mexican Kidnap Suspects Captured Amid Waves of Violence and Protests

Mexico City police have detained the five people they believe are responsible for the murder of Fernando Marti, the 14-year old son of a very prominent Mexican businessman. Marti was abducted in June while on his way to school. As is the case in the majority of these schemes, the kidnappers asked for a ransom. Marti’s father, Alejandro Marti, quickly paid the fee, but it didn’t matter. On August 1st, the body of Fernando Marti was found in the trunk of a car. This week prosecutors arrested the five gang members believed to have committed this crime. Known as the “Band of the Flower,” the group left a single Marigold on their murder victims as a signature. The leader of the gang, Sergio Ortiz Juarez, was a former police investigator. Prosecutor Miguel Marcera believes the group disguised themselves as police officers in order to abduct their victim.

While the story of Fernando Marti is a sad one, it is unfortunately not an uncommon one. At least 2,700 murders and 300 kidnappings have occurred in Mexico just this year alone, mostly due to the drug-related violence that has gripped the country. Just last month, a dozen decapitated bodies were found in the Yucatan peninsula.

After Fernando Marti’s kidnapping, the Mexican people took to the streets, tired of the endless murders and kidnappings, and what they see as the inability of authorities and politicians to curb the violence. In what was known as the “Day of Illumination,” protesters dressed in white and holding candles gathered in all 32 states of Mexico. More than 150,000 people came together in Zocalo Square in Mexico City. Many of the protesters were the parents of victims, holding up pictures of their lost children.

President Felipe Calderon has responded with stronger measures to deal with the violence. Political and security leaders came up with a 74-point emergency plan that includes cracking down on corrupt police officers, obtaining more powerful weapons for security forces, building more prisons to house kidnappers, and combating money-laundering and drug-trafficking. President Calderon has also deployed over 25,000 troops to combat the drug cartels, which are well organized and often supported by corrupt police officers. The United States has also pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to aid the effort.

What do you think needs to be done to end the wave of violence in Mexico? Do you think President Calderon's measures to curtail the violence will help?