Mexican authorities have found the body of a fourth taxi driver killed by a band of kidnappers and buried by a highway outside Mexico City, highlighting taxi drivers’ vulnerability to criminal gangs.
The body was pulled from a clandestine grave along a highway connecting Mexico City to Cuernavaca, Milenio reported on October 20. The bodies of three other taxi drivers were retrieved from the same area early last week, with the third found on October 18. Two suspects arrested for the murders gave police information about the bodies’ location. They have admitted to killing five taxi drivers, but the fifth body has not yet been found.
The suspects reportedly ran a kidnapping ring which targeted taxis driving through Mexico City’s busy Insurgentes Avenue, the Federal District Attorney General’s Office told press. The men would ask drivers to take them to the capital’s southern Tlalpan district, according to the Associated Press. The kidnappers would then allegedly hold their drivers at gunpoint, make them drive to a forested area, and then beat them to death and bury the body.
They set fire to the cabs and used the slain drivers’ cell phones to call their families and demand ransom payments of up to $15,500.
A third suspected accomplice is still at large, and police have yet to uncover the body of the fifth victim the suspects admitted to killing.
InSight Crime Analysis
Transit workers are often targeted by organized criminal groups in Mexico. More than 40 taxi drivers were killed in Acapulco between January and August 2011, while in April 2012, eight drivers were gunned down in Monterrey as they waited for fares outside a furniture store.
One explanation as to why taxi drivers are targeted is because they are sometimes used by gangs to serve as lookouts or help run local drug trafficking operations. This leaves them vulnerable to retaliatory attacks from rival gangs.
In this instance the drivers appear to have been targeted because they were easy victims for the kidnapping band. Under the administration of President Felipe Calderon, kidnappings have increased from 438 reported cases in 2007 to 1,327 last year.