Things That Matter

A Man Didn’t Like How Slow Mexican Authorities Were Investigating So He Solved His Father’s Murder

The most intense true crime stories seem to follow an unlikely plotline: someone goes missing, the authorities fail to follow up, and a friend or relative of the victim vows to solve the crime—to avenge them with the justice they deserve. Although this type of vigilante justice seems most believable in fictional situations, the truth is that it can absolutely happen IRL. And when Juan Carlos Quiroz’s father went missing in 2017, Quiroz became the protagonist of his own harrowing true-crime tale.

Quiroz’s father disappeared in the spring of 2017. As a retired middle school principal, Albino Quiroz Sandoval spent lots of time at his home in Tepoztlán, Morelos—so it seemed strange when he did not return that afternoon after running an errand at a hardware store nearby. When his family searched through the small mountain town, they eventually found his car abandoned about a mile from the store. They assumed that he had been kidnapped, as more than 40,000 people are currently registered as “missing” in Mexico, and this type of situation is not exactly of as national homicide rates continue to rise.

Quiroz aimed to file a missing person’s report the next day, but bureaucracy held him up, requiring him to visit four separate government offices over the course of 12 hours.

Credit: Unsplash

In spite of the sluggish administrative process, police dispatched a single officer to investigate. But the officer returned to the state capital of Cuernavaca with no information. As hours passed without any leads, it became evident that Sandoval was not the victim of a random kidnapping. And due to Mexico’s notoriously ineffectual justice system (in Mexico, only 5 percent of killings end in a conviction, and just last year, the conviction rate in Morelos was less than 1%), Quiroz realized that he not only had to face the source of his father’s disappearance—he also had to deal with an incredibly difficult legal system.

Understanding the tenuous situation his family was in, Quiroz opted to take matters into his own hands. “I realized that it wasn’t my job to grieve,” he said. “I had to look for answers, or I wasn’t going to get any.” 

So just two days after his father had disappeared, Quiroz paced the streets of Tepoztlán, visiting shop after shop in search of surveillance footage that might lead him in the right direction. He later found out that the police hadn’t even checked for this type of evidence—evidence that would end up being pivotal to solving the mystery of what happened to his father.

One video showed Sandoval leaving the hardware store that he’d originally set out for, driving in the opposite direction of his home. Later that night, the family heard rumors that Sandoval had been lending money to a man named Juan Carlos Reyes Lara—a local attorney who claimed that his daughter was in the hospital—and that Sandoval and Reyes had gotten into an altercation about money on the day of his disappearance.

Witnesses had observed this altercation and reported it to local police, but no action was taken. When Quiroz approached the police for more information, they barely acknowledged the event, though one officer did give Quiroz the name of a witness who had reported the incident.

Eventually, the witness shared his story with The Los Angeles Times, saying, “We all want the system to change. But if you don’t do your part, it will never happen.”

Credit: Unsplash

Two weeks later, police apprehended Reyes in his home on charges of kidnapping. But while this seemed like a small victory, the next steps were incredibly frustrating for Quiroz and his family. In a preliminary court hearing, prosecutors failed to mention that they had an eyewitness account for Sandoval’s beating. Ultimately, one prosecutor told Quiroz’s family that it would be best to avoid a trial and instead try to negotiate a deal with Reyes, which would require him to pay the family restitution without admitting guilt.

Desperate for further assistance, Quiroz sought help from a human rights group, which ended up connecting him with a lawyer named Efraín Márquez Dur’án. Márquez was all too familiar with the corruption of Mexico’s justice system, and he took on Quiroz’s case con gusto, eager to meet to challenge of making the state to do its job—which, let it be known, he did.

After a year of news conferences and meetings with officials, Marquez lobbied for a new prosecutor to be assigned to the case—a prosecutor who believed Reyes should be charged for kidnapping with intent to harm.

Credit: Unsplash

In seven days of hearings, held over a three-week period, 22 witnesses and experts testified, leading to a guilty verdict. Reyes was ultimately sentenced to 50 years in prison—a partial justice for Quiroz and his family, who plan to continue fighting for Mexico’s justice system to overcome its toxic corruption.

“I think it’s our only option to escape the cruelty of the violence that we’re living,” he said. “We have to be able to come together again as members of the same community and make the criminals responsible for their actions.” 

READ: The Police Officer Who Shot Atatiana Jefferson In Her Own Home Will Be Put On Trial For Murder

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One Town’s Residents Made A Citizen’s Arrest Of Their Mayor For Alleged Corruption And Shoddy Construction

Things That Matter

One Town’s Residents Made A Citizen’s Arrest Of Their Mayor For Alleged Corruption And Shoddy Construction

QUETZALLI BLANCO/AFP via Getty Images

Residents of a village in Chiapas, Mexico have become so fed up with their mayor that they decided to do something about it. Eschewing long, bureaucratic legal processes to hold him accountable, residents of a southern Chiapas town decided to hold their mayor accountable for what they said was a public works project so poorly done that it was useless.

A mayor in Chiapas was tied to a tree by his own residents for a job done badly.

Residents from eleven neighborhoods of the Chiapas town Comalapa held their mayor accountable for his inaction on a public works project. According to reports, the residents arrested Mayor Óscar Ramírez Aguilar to a tree in a public area to expose him to the rest of the town. They told the newspaper Diario de Chiapas, that they wanted to expose him for the “bad public servant” that he is and that he shouldn’t be reelected.

The townspeople say the municipal water storage cistern — whose installation they say was a campaign promise — is in such poor condition that it does not comply with water safety requirements. It currently has no water, they said, due to leaks, and the residents accuse the government of merely patching the tank — badly — to stop them.

In a video on social media, residents showed how the concrete patch job is already chipping away and easily crumbles.

“He promised us that this would be a public works project worthy of Comalapa residents, but [this tank is] a farce; the water system doesn’t work well. It’s an old problem that he should have attended to properly and should have been a priority during his administration because he came to see us in our homes with this promise, and now he doesn’t want to live up to it,” a resident told the newspaper.

But the mayor is denying what happened in a social media post.

The mayor though has a totally different version of events. After he was released, Ramírez posted a video on his official social media account to counter the residents’ version of the story.

“They did not tie me up,” he claimed. “The meeting was with 11 representatives of Comalapa neighborhoods in order to agree upon details regarding a major public project, the introduction of potable water.”

However, photographs clearly showed the mayor standing before a tree with his hands behind his back.

Three years ago, another local official suffered a similar fate after allegedly failing to deliver promised funds. He was bound to a post in the the central plaza of Comalapa.

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A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Culture

A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Jon G. Fuller / VW PICS / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It is important to be a responsible tourist. This means following rules, acting responsibly, and not violating sacred places. That is something one tourist learned the hard way when she climbed the Pyramid of Kukulkán in Chichén Itzá.

Here’s the video of a tourist running down the steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkán.

The Pyramid of Kukulkán is one of the most iconic examples of Pre-Hispanic architecture and culture in Mesoamerica. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico. In 2017, more than 2 million visitors descended on the site.

Of course, #LadyKukulkan started to trend on Twitter.

You know that Twitter was ready to start calling out this woman for her actions. According to Yucatán Expat Life Magazine, the woman was there to honor her husband’s dying wish. The woman, identified as a tourist from Tijuana, wanted to spread her husband’s ashes on the top of the pyramid, which it seems that she did.

The video was a moment for Mexican Twitter.

Not only was she arrested by security when she descended, but the crowd was also clearly against her. Like, what was she even thinking? It isn’t like the pyramid is crawling with tourists all over it. She was the only person climbing the pyramid, which is federally owned and cared for.

The story is already sparking ideas for other people when they die.

“Me: (to my parents) Have you read about #ladykukulkan?
My Dad: Yes! (to my mom) When I die, I want you to scatter my ashes in the National Palace so they call you “Lady Palace,” sounds better, no?” wrote @hania_jh on Twitter.

READ: Mexico’s Version Of Burning Man Became A COVID-19 Super-Spreader Event Thanks To U.S. Tourists

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