Monday, April 15, 2013

Criminals Filed Defamation Complaint Against La 72 Refuge Shelter Activists In Tabasco

Tomás González Castillo and Ruben Figueroa

Suspected members of local criminal organization affiliated with Los Zetas filed a defamation and moral character damage complaint against La 72 Immigrant Refuge shelter operator and human rights activist.

By H. Nelson Goodson
April 15, 2013

Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico - The Tabasco state Attorney General Justice's Office (PGJET) confirmed that a complaint for defamation and moral character damage was filed on April 10 against Franciscan Priest Tomás González Castilla, 39, operator of La 72 Immigrant Refuge Shelter and Ruben Figueroa, from the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement organization. The plaintiffs, José Alberto González and Jorge Alberto Alvarado, both from Honduras and José Osmaro Cruz Gálvez from El Salvador are claiming that Castillo and Figueroa falsely accused them of making threats to behead the defendants and making death threats to staff members and volunteers at the shelter, including the extortion of undocumented immigrants from South and Central America and being members of a criminal organization that charge quotas to immigrants between $100 to $300 dollars to board a freight train known as La bestia (Beast) in the Tenosique, Tabasco to Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz train route. The multi-million quota charging operation has become very profitable for local criminals that target transient immigrants who don't file criminal violations with local and state authorities. Some corrupt authorities are suspected of working with criminal organizations to extort immigrants.
The PGJET has launched an investigation into the allegations against Figueroa and Castillo.
Federal Police and the Mexican military on March 17, arrested González, Alvarado and Gálvez for extortion and making threats against Figueroa and Castillo and other undocumented immigrants. Figueroa, Castillo and several immigrants filed a complaint with the PGJET against the three suspects for extorting immigrants and making death threats against staff and volunteers of La 72 shelter. 
When taken into custody, González, Alvarado and Gálvez confessed and admitted to authorities that they extorted immigrants by forcing them to pay a $100 quota to ride a freight train out of Tenosique. On April 9, the three suspects were released from custody and on Friday, one of the suspects was seen applying for a humanitarian visa from the National Institute of Migration to remain in Mexico. Figueroa in a Facebook post wrote, "it's very clear, the complicity the federal authorities have with known criminals and how they are protected" in regards to authorities releasing the suspects and one of them applying for a Mexico visa.
Figueroa and Castillo have been instrumental in exposing, providing evidence and helping victims to come forward to file complaints with the PGJET and the federal government of criminal acts perpetuated against undocumented immigrants traveling through Tenosique on their way to the U.S. border. 
In the last six year, an estimated 70,000 of undocumented immigrants have disappeared and only 80 have been found alive, according to Figueroa. About 140,000 of South and Central American immigrants, including women and children make their way through Mexico with destination to the U.S. border every year.
A majority of them become victims of extortion, rape, forced into criminal organizations (CO) and prostitution, kidnappings and are killed to remove body parts for the profitable underground body part black market operated by CO's and drug cartels.

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