January 30, 2013
MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — The Colombian-style music group was playing at a ranch in northern Mexico when at least 10 gunmen entered the warehouse where the private party was being held and forced them and several crew members into waiting vehicles, a survivor of the attack told authorities.
Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene said the survivor, a member of the Kombo Kolombia band, told police the 18 were blindfolded and driven on dirt roads until they stopped. He then heard the assailants ask fellow band members if they belonged to a drug cartel, shots were fired and the bodies were dumped into a well.
Domene said the survivor, who is being protected by soldiers, was able to reach a nearby ranch and get help. He wouldn’t give details on how the man was able to escape.
The man later led authorities to the well where searchers found several bodies, Domene said.
Domene said four bodies first pulled from the well on Sunday have been identified by their relatives, including a Colombian citizen who played the keyboard. Three of them were wearing matching T-shirt with the name of the band.
“The search will continue … to see how many more bodies may be hidden there,” he said.
By Monday afternoon, searchers had pulled 12 bodies from the well along a dirt road in the town of Mina, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) from Laredo, Texas, Domene said.
The bodies recovered showed signs of torture, said a forensic official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly on the case.
It was hard to determine how many more bodies were submersed in the water, he said.
Authorities initially said 16 members of the band Kombo Kolombia and four crew members were reported missing early Friday after playing at a private party attended by about 50 people and held at a ranch called La Carreta, or The Wagon, in the town of Hidalgo north of Monterrey.
But Domene said Monday 18 band members had gone missing. He didn’t say how many were crew members and how many were musicians.
The party guests are being questioned and police have yet to determine a motive in the killings, Domene said.
Nuevo Leon state, on the border with Texas, has been the scene of a turf battle between members of the Gulf drug cartel and the Zetas drug gang. The Zetas were hit men for the Gulf cartel until they split in 2010, unleashing their bloody war.
People living near the ranch in Hidalgo reported hearing gunshots at about 4 a.m. Friday, followed by the sound of vehicles speeding away, said a separate source with the Nuevo Leon State Investigative Agency. He also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be quoted by the news media.
The officials added that gunfire is common in the area and said investigators found spent bullets nearby.
Relatives filed a missing persons report on Friday after losing cellular phone contact with the musicians. When they went to the ranch to investigate, they found the band members’ vehicles still parked outside.