They had hired a smuggler in Guatemala that would take them all the way to the United States, but the smuggler abandoned them in Mexico, Hernández said, where they were kidnapped.
Their kidnappers were members of Los Zetas drug cartel, according to Morelos State Secretary of Interior Pablo Ojeda Cardenas. They allegedly called their victims’ relatives in the United States, demanding a ransom of $12,000, he said. The family was able to send $8,000, but didn’t hear back from the kidnappers.
A few days later, on July 6, Cristian and his father were found lying on the side of a dirt road in Morelos state, left for dead. The man’s throat had been slit, but his son was still breathing.
Authorities later said that the uncle and cousin managed to escape, and are now in the care of Mexican authorities, according to a spokesman for the Morelos Governor’s Office.
Cristian was taken to a hospital in the city of Cuatla, where he is getting psychological treatment, in addition to medical care. He “[…] underwent surgery and is currently in good health,” the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry said.
In 2010, the bodies of 72 migrants, 58 men and 14 women, were discovered in a mass grave in northeast Mexico. Mexican authorities said then they believed most of the victims were from Honduras and El Salvador, although some came from as far away as Ecuador and Brazil. The mass grave was discovered about 14 miles (22 kilometers) from the town of San Fernando in Tamaulipas state, near the border with Texas.
Los Zetas has long been feared by Central American migrants traveling through Mexico, and was originally composed of a group of former Mexican elite forces that acted as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel.
Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry has issued a statement expressing condolences to Cristian’s family and promising to pay for all costs related to the repatriation of his father’s body.
The three survivors have two options now, authorities say: Stay in Mexico on a humanitarian visa or return to Guatemala.
Reporting contributed by Oscar Guadarrama Torres, Kiarinna Parisi, Tatiana Arias, and Radina Gigova.