In Ciudad Juarez, drug violence shatters a wedding

Thursday, May 13, 2010


In Ciudad Juarez, drug violence shatters a wedding

Rafael Morales had been married about five minutes when, in the middle of his wedding, gunmen stormed into the Lord of Mercy Catholic Church in Ciudad Juarez on Friday and kidnapped him, his brother and uncle. They shot another man outside.

As the bride and guests were ordered to the floor, weeping in terror, the others were whisked away.

On Monday, the bodies of the 29-year-old groom, his brother and uncle were found in Juarez alongside that of an unidentified fourth man in the bed of a stolen Toyota pickup truck with Texas plates. The corpses revealed signs of torture.

On Wednesday, Mexican state police identified the three dead as U.S. citizens from La Mesa, N.M., just 20 minutes north of El Paso by interstate.

The FBI says it will assist in the investigation. The U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez referred calls to Mexican authorities.

"I'm confused, frustrated and in despair. My wife, she is devastated," the father of Rafael Morales told the El Paso Times. He said his son was born in the United States and he had no idea why he was targeted.

More than 900 people have been killed in Juarez this year in drug-related violence, and more than 5,000 have died there since the cartels and the Mexican army began fighting in 2008. But this appears to be the first abduction and slaying at a church.

-- William Booth


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