Jun 26, 2021 - World

At least 50 missing after traveling on Mexico’s "highway of death"

Relative and activist searches for disappeared family members
A relative of a missing person walks next to a banner with the pictures of missing people as she takes part in the first independent field search in the surroundings of the Monterrey-Saltillo highway in Monterrey, Mexico in October 2015. Photo: Julio Cesar Aguilar/AFP via Getty Images

At least 50 people are missing in Mexico after embarking on three-hour car trips between the industrial hub of Monterrey and the border city of Nuevo Laredo, a stretch of road local media have called "the highway of death," AP reports.

The big picture: About a half-dozen men have reappeared alive, beaten, saying only that armed men forced them to stop on the highway and took their vehicles, per AP.

  • What happened to the others remains a mystery. About half a dozen of those who are missing are believed to be U.S. citizens or residents, per AP.
  • The government of Nuevo Leon, where Monterrey is located, did not warn people against traveling on the highway until June 23, after receiving dozens of reports of missing travelers for more than a month.
  • The governments of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, where Nuevo Laredo is located, announced Friday a joint program to increase policing and security on the highway, "a step that, if it had been carried out a month earlier, might have saved dozens of lives," per AP.
  • Angelica Orozco, a member of the civic group United Forces for Our Disappeared, said the disappearances are reminiscent of worst days of Mexico’s drug war, like in 2011 when cartel gunmen in the state of Tamaulipas dragged innocent passengers off buses.

What they're saying: “Now, more than 10 years after the disappearances in 2010 and 2011, they cannot continue to use the same pretexts,” Orozco said.

  • But “they’re using the same lines. … In the last decade they were supposed to have created institutions and procedures, but it’s the same old story of authorities doing nothing,” Orozco said.
  • “Only now is the National Guard going out to patrol the highway. Why did they wait so long?” said Karla Moreno, whose husband, Artemio Moreno, disappeared on the road on April 13. “How can this be happening? We were supposed to have more (law enforcement) resources by now.”
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