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Western Mexico authorities announced this week that Javier Salomón Aceves Gastélum, Daniel Díaz and Marco Ávalos were likely tortured and killed by members of the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel after disappearing outside Jalisco, Mexico in March. As residents of Guadalajara and Mexico City continue to demand answers in the wake of the thousands that have gone missing, CASSIUS recaps the events leading up to students’ tragic deaths.

1 Gastélum, Díaz and Ávalos were aspiring filmmakers from Universidad de Medios Audiovisuales (CAAV), a film school located in Guadalajara, Jalisco. According to NBC News, they were in the middle of shooting a class project during their Spring Break before they were abducted on March 19.

2 Salomón’s cousin, Alejandra—who accompanied the boys on the trip along with his girlfriend—recounted the moment they went missing to a local newspaper. “I saw some men coming with guns and long weapons. They told us they were with the police and I ducked down,” she said in Spanish. “When I raised my head, I saw that the vans were gone, so were they.” Prosecutors say their bodies were dissolved in acid with “no trace” of them remaining after the students were mistaken for members of a rival gang. So far, two men have been arrested, with arrest orders being made for four others.

3 The disappearance of the three students accounts for just a few of the thousands who have gone missing in Jalisco in recent weeks. As of February 28, over 5,000 people—36 percent of which are between the ages of 16 and 28 years old—have disappeared, sparking outrage among residents of Guadalajara and Mexico City.

4 Since the onslaught of disappearances, residents have maintained that the government didn’t respond quickly enough. After the students were reported missing, over 1,500 people participated in protests in Guadalajara and Mexico City demanding the boys’ safe return home. Academy Award-winning director and Guadalajara native Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) retweeted the news to his followers using the hashtags #NoSonTresSomosTodxs (“we’re not three, it’s all of us”) and #LosTresEstudiantesDeCine (“the three film students”).

5 The students’ deaths add to the tally of a country that recently marked its deadliest year in modern history. According to NPR, there were nearly 30,000 reported homicides in 2017 alone. Multiple protests have been called across Mexico in the wake of the students’ deaths.

 

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