Two boys as young as 14 and 15 are among suspects arrested in connection with the kidnapping and killing of a group of teenagers from a ranch in the central Mexico state of Zacatecas.

The lone survivor, Sergio Acevedo, 18, and the fatal victims Diego Rodríguez, 17; Jorge Ocon, 14 and his cousin Héctor Salcedo, 14; Gumaro Santacruz, 18; Oscar Rojas, 15; and Jesús Rodríguez, 18, were located Wednesday in a remote area in the community of Casablanca, just outside the Zacatecas border with the state of Jalisco.

The ranch where the teens were kidnapped is owned by Salcedo’s parents and located nine miles away in the town of Malpaso.

The two teenage boys, whose names were not released are natives of the state of Durango and were taken into custody Tuesday. 

Security forces were performing a surveillance flight in search of the abducted teens when they spotted the two suspect carrying military weapons in the municipality of Jerez.

Witnesses described the teenage suspects as being part of the armed group that raided the property Sunday around 4am. The ranch is located just 1,600 from a regional state public security station.

‘We have a recognition procedure in which witnesses recognize that they may be part of the armed group that took the victims, evidence that has been sufficient to obtain an arrest warrant against them for the crime of aggravated kidnapping,’ Zacatecas Attorney General Francisco Murillo said in a press conference Thursday evening.

The custody of both teenage suspects was transferred to Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office.

Sergio Acevedo is the only teenager who survived after he and six of his friends were kidnapped from a ranch in the central Mexico state of Zacatecas on Sunday. The 18-year-old, according to his mother, remains hospitalized and has been treated for blood clots in his head

Sergio Acevedo is the only teenager who survived after he and six of his friends were kidnapped from a ranch in the central Mexico state of Zacatecas on Sunday. The 18-year-old, according to his mother, remains hospitalized and has been treated for blood clots in his head 

A 14-year-old boy is one of two teens arrested in connection with the kidnapping of seven teenagers, including six who were killed, in Zacatecas, Mexico

A 15-year-old boy was arrested along with a 14-year-old boy for their roles in the kidnapping and murder of six teenager. Another teen, 18, was kidnapped but survived

Two teenage boys, ages 14 (left) and 15 (right), were arrested Tuesday in Zacatecas, Mexico, a day before authorities located the bodies of six dead teenagers and one survivor who were abducted by a cartel from a ranch on Sunday 

Six teens were found dead at a ranch in Zacatecas on Wednesday, just three days after they were kidnapped. Pictured top row from left to right: Diego Rodríguez, Jorge Ocon and Héctor Salcedo. Pictured bottom row from left to right: Gumaro Santacruz, Oscar Rojas and Jesús Rodríguez

Six teens were found dead at a ranch in Zacatecas on Wednesday, just three days after they were kidnapped. Pictured top row from left to right: Diego Rodríguez, Jorge Ocon and Héctor Salcedo. Pictured bottom row from left to right: Gumaro Santacruz, Oscar Rojas and Jesús Rodríguez

The seven teens were kidnapped from a ranch in Malpaso, a community in the central Mexico municipality of Villanueva and abandoned in another ranch in Casa Blanca, where they were beaten and killed. An 18-year-old survived the attack and is currently hospitalized

The seven teens were kidnapped from a ranch in Malpaso, a community in the central Mexico municipality of Villanueva and abandoned in another ranch in Casa Blanca, where they were beaten and killed. An 18-year-old survived the attack and is currently hospitalized

The parents of one of the victims said they kidnappers contacted them seeking money, but no exchanges were ever made, according to El País. They also received videos that showed the teens walking barefooted in the remote ranch where authorities say they were beaten and murdered.

Zacatecas state public security deputy secretary Oscar Aparicio said they were able to close in on the teenagers’ whereabouts when police chased a pickup truck in the town of Laurel on Tuesday and discovered two people who were also kidnapped from the ranch.

Aparicio said that operation was crucial in helping authorities determine where the kidnapped teens were being held.

At least two of the suspects reportedly provided information that helped law enforcement find the victims.

A third suspect, an adult male, was taken into custody Thursday in the Villanueva community of La Quemada near the neighborhood of Malpaso where the kidnapping was reported.

Sergio Acevedo told his mother from his hospital bed that he not doing anything wrong that would have warranted his kidnapping from a ranch

Sergio Acevedo told his mother from his hospital bed that he not doing anything wrong that would have warranted his kidnapping from a ranch

Law enforcement sources said the teenagers were kidnapped by the Sinaloa Cartel, which is at war with rivals over control of federal highway 54 that links Jalisco with the Pacific Ocean, according to news outlet Reforma. 

However, none of the officials made reference to the notorious cartel’s involvement during the press conference. 

Acevedo remained hospitalized at Zacatecas General Hospital as of Friday and is in stable condition. 

His mother, Karla Rodríguez, told Mexican news network Milenio that doctors detected two blood clots in his head.

‘Maybe they will operate on him, he also had cuts on his arms,’ she said.

The concerned mother said Acevedo is cognizant of who she is although he has been kept sedated.

‘He has no idea of time right now, maybe it’s because of the beatings, I don’t know,’ Rodríguez said. ‘He said that he is not up to bad things, he said, ‘I haven’t done anything bad.’ I told him, ‘I know, son, I know.’

A service was held Thursday afternoon for Jesús Rodríguez, an 18-year-old who along five other teenage friends were abducted by a cartel Sunday and found dead Wednesday in a ranch in Zacatecas, Mexico

A service was held Thursday afternoon for Jesús Rodríguez, an 18-year-old who along five other teenage friends were abducted by a cartel Sunday and found dead Wednesday in a ranch in Zacatecas, Mexico

Security forces inspect the farm area where the bodies of six teenagers and a survivor were found Wednesday

Security forces inspect the farm area where the bodies of six teenagers and a survivor were found Wednesday

Plan were originally made a joint funeral service for all six victims before the families decided to hold them separately, except for Ocon and Salcedo.

Funeral and burial services were held for all six victims Thursday afternoon.

Legislators in Zacatecas, where 720 murders were registered in the first eight months of 2023, held a special session Thursday and called  for the resignation of Governor David Monreal.

The state is among Mexico’s most violent states where rival criminal gangs regularly clash over lucrative smuggling routes. 

A total of 1,432 homicides (1,261 men, including 621 under the age of 30) were reported in 2021, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography

Monreal told reporters that kidnappings are a strategy employed by cartels in their turf wars with rivals and that victims are released when they notice they are not their targets.

‘It is a kind of modus operandi, sometimes as a dispute over territory, those from one cartel overpower another cartel,’ he said.

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