MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Four police officers in western Mexico have been arrested on suspicion of abducting three missing Italian men for local gangsters, state prosecutors said on Saturday.
The three men reportedly went missing on Jan. 31 after being detained by police at a gasoline station in the municipality of Tecalitlan in southern Jalisco state, the home of Mexico’s second biggest city, Guadalajara.
The Jalisco attorney general’s office said four Tecalitlan police officers, three men and a woman, had been held on suspicion of carrying out the forced disappearance of the Naples natives Raffaele Russo, Antonio Russo and Vincenzo Cimmino.
Jalisco attorney general Raul Sanchez said the arrested police officers had told investigators they had been ordered to hand over the three men to a local criminal gang.
Authorities are still trying to locate the Italians, and investigations are continuing, he told a news conference.
It was not clear why the police had been told to abduct the men.
Jalisco is home to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), one of Mexico’s most powerful drug gangs and one notorious for infiltrating the police. Sanchez could not say whether the Italians had been handed over to members of the CJNG.