Two weeks later, there has been no trace of the men. Investigators have yet to announce any good leads, even though two others from the group were not taken.
Against the backdrop of
But in the
Relatives back in the western state of
"None of them had any ties or relationship with any group that is involved in illicit acts . . . and had no conflicts with anyone, or threats of any kind," the relatives said in a joint statement issued shortly after the men disappeared.
Family members listed the men's names and ages — 17
to 58 — and jobs. Nine of the missing worked in the same
wheel-alignment shop in
Still, it's hard to explain why 20 law-abiding men would be seized at gunpoint on the way to beach-side relaxation. Authorities have made comments casting doubt that the men were mere tourists, but have not specified a motive for the disappearances.
The outcome of the mystery matters to
Sensitive to the effect of violence on the country's
crucial tourism industry, Mexican officials have said the rising
bloodshed nationwide is not aimed at travelers. That has been largely
true: Even though drug-related violence has killed more than 300 people
in and around
The missing men arrived in four cars from
A state police commander first expressed skepticism,
saying it was unusual for a group of men to go on vacation without
family members. And
"We assume it has to do with organized crime," Torreblanca said a day after the news broke. "I don't think anyone comes to deliberately carry out an attack on 20 tourists."
When the families complained that officials appeared to be blaming the victims, the authorities backed off, announcing that checks showed that none of the missing men had criminal records.
When the men's vehicles were recovered, investigators found signs of a road trip — suitcases, beer, cookies — but no weapons or contraband.
But last week,
"A tourist usually travels with family, has a hotel reservation, arrives directly at his hotel and fits certain profiles," she told a congressional committee when a question about the case came up. Guevara stopped short of tying the men to criminal activities, but the implication seemed clear.
Families of the men fired back, accusing Guevara of a "lack of responsibility" and offering papers showing the group had reserved rooms for the three-day stay in a hotel they did not publicly identify.
"We're very worried about our family members because we don't know anything about them, and now we are angry that (officials) keep insisting that they weren't tourists," a relative who identified herself only by her first name, Katia, said during a radio interview.
Early this year, President
(c) 2010, Los Angeles Times.
Visit the Los Angeles Times on the Internet at http://www.latimes.com/.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.