4 Mexican cops face trial for ‘selling’ Italians to criminal gang

Mexican prosecutors have started criminal proceeding against four police officers suspected of handing over three Italians to a criminal gang operating in Tecalitlan in southern Jalisco State on January 31 this year.

Judge Damian Campos said on Saturday they have proof the four kidnapped the trio for the notorious criminal cartel Nueva Generación which has infiltrated the police.

The suspects said they had been ordered to hand over the three men to the local criminal gang but they did not explain why they did it and under whose orders.

A month after the three men from Naples went missing, police are still hunting for the local leader of the cartel and also Tecalitlan’s police chief at whose behest the kidnapping allegedly took place.

Reports of the kidnapping of Raffaele Russo, 60, his son Antonio Russo, 25, and nephew Vincenzo Cimmino, 29, had sparked protests in Naples and elsewhere in poll-bound Italy.

Francesco Russo, a relative of the three missing, told an Italian broadcaster they were sold by the four police officers to the cartel for “€43”. He was possibly quoting “43” to draw a parallel between the present case and the disappearance of “43” students from Iguala, Guerrero state, in 2014. In Iguala, corrupt police handed over the students to a criminal gang who killed and burned their bodies.

Raffaele was the first to be kidnapped by police on January 31. Two hours later, Antonio and Vincenzo, who went searching for him, were surrounded by police officers at a petrol pump and forcibly taken away.

Antonio sent a long text message to Francesco on this. This was the last piece of communication from any of the three before their disappearance.

Francesco says his cousins came to Mexico to sell electric generators. State Attorney General Raul Sanchez agreed adding that they were trying to sell Chinese-made stuff as top quality products. He said it is possible some of the gang members may have bought the products from the three Italians.

Francesco fears his three cousins are in grave danger. Gino Bergamé, a family spokesman, said Italy must do something since no one knows whether the three are still alive.

Italy in poll frenzy. One hopes someone in Rome listens and acts before it is too late.