Mexican activist who searched for disappeared is slain

CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico (AP) — A mother who spent years searching for her missing daughter in northern Mexico and organized others to look for their disappeared relatives was shot to death in her home, authorities said Thursday.

The group Citizen Community in Search of the Disappeared in Tamaulipas, to which Miriam Rodriguez belonged, said she was killed Wednesday night while at her home in the town of San Fernando in Tamaulipas state.

The Tamaulipas state attorney’s office said in a statement that Rodriguez’s killer would be brought to justice.

The statement denied reports that a man blamed by Rodriguez for her daughter’s slaying was free following a prison escape. The man, who has been charged but not yet tried in the daughter’s killing, was part of an escape of 29 prisoners in March, but was recaptured almost immediately, it said.

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Still, the statement said, the state government responded to Rodriguez’s request for protection after the escape, sending police to patrol outside her home three times a day.

San Fernando is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Brownsville, Texas, and is a critical point on drug- and migrant-smuggling routes to the border. In 2010, gunmen for the Zetas drug cartel killed 72 migrants who had been traveling toward the border in one incident in San Fernando.

The citizen group said Rodriguez’s tireless search had eventually led to her daughter’s remains in an unmarked grave and she identified to authorities the man she held responsible. That is the man that the prosecutor’s office says is back in prison awaiting trial in the case.

Such groups have spread across Mexico in recent years as people search for their loved ones in the face of government inaction or indifference. Some 30,000 people have disappeared in the decade since Mexico announced a war on drug cartels.

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Tamaulipas state Gov. Francisco Cabeza de Vaca went on Twitter to condemn Rodriguez’s killing and promise justice.