Kidnappers grabbed a 5-year-old boy from a gritty Mexico City street market, then killed him by injecting acid into his heart—a new low even for Mexico’s brutal kidnapping gangs.
The boy, Javier Morena, was the oldest son of a poor family that sold fruit at a market in the poor neighborhood of Iztapalapa, proof that the plague of kidnappings for ransom afflicts the working class as well as the wealthy.
Javier disappeared while playing at the market on Sunday, Oct. 26, Mexico City authorities said Monday. The boy’s family spent days looking for him, finally persuading a local television station to post his picture on the news on Wednesday, Oct. 29.
The police raided the 17-year-old’s home, and he and his family and two others confessed to having killed the boy before they could ask for a 300,000-peso ($23,000) ransom, Mexico City Attorney General Miguel Mancera said in a statement.
The child’s death recalled the recent kidnapping and slaying of Fernando Marti, the 14-year-old son of a sporting goods magnate whose death prompted a national outcry against crime.
Young Marti’s decomposing body was found in the trunk of a car even though his family reportedly paid a ransom. Prosecutors said a federal lawman was part of the gang that kidnapped Marti.
Mexico has one of the world’s highest kidnapping rates, according to the anti-violence group IKV Pax Christi. Kidnappings are up 9 percent this year and average 65 per month nationwide, according to the federal Attorney General’s Office, which blames a growing web of drug cartels, current and former police officers and informants who point out potentially lucrative victims.