Saturday, October 29, 2011

Woman, 53, decapitated in Cancún; police say her son is local drug gang executioner

The body of a woman who was kidnapped two days ago has been found in the commercial district of Cancún, near the entrance to the main highway to Mérida.

Jovita Morales Sarmiento, 53, was taken from her home in a Cancún neighborhood by four armed men about 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Authorities say that her decapitated remains were found last night (October 28). Her body showed signs of torture. Her severed head was found nearby this morning.

Quintana Roo's state prosecutor, Antonio García Torres, said the murder appears to be a revenge killing by organized crime. An anonymous caller told police that Sarmiento could be found at kilometer 238 of the Mérida highway. Mérida is the capital of neighboring Yucatán state, and is about 250 miles west of Cancún.

Q.R. authorities say that Sarminento's son is a sicario, or executioner, for a local crime gang known as Los Pelones. The group allegedly has been involved with several murders in the area, and may have been responsible for the executions of two young women in an Isla de Mujeres hotel room last week.

Mexico's Gold Coast is locked in a turf battle between competing drug factions, of which the Los Zetas cartel is the most powerful and most feared.

Updates 10/31/11: Additional information is available this morning concerning the case. First, it appears that the 53 year old victim may have also sold drugs from time to time, as an "independent." More interesting are the details of her son's involvement. He is Antonio Garibay Morales, a/k/a “El Johnny," a hit man for Los Pelones. He was arrested by Quintana Roo police in August in connection with another investigation, and apparently remains in custody. Local sources say that Johnny "ratted out" some of his fellow gang members, giving details of multiple crimes, including several murders he and others had carried out. So his mother's execution was a revenge killing, according to the prosecutor.

Finally, three people who were in a vehicle matching the description of the one used in Thursday's kidnapping have been detained and are being questioned by police.

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