US teen killed in Juárez puts spotlight on Mexico's unsolved murders
Unresolved recent killings of a US missionary and a vacationing jet-skier raise questions about the ability of Mexico's weak judiciary to investigate the weekend shooting of a US teen.
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American murders remain unsolved
Ms. Safford says that, according to both US and Mexican criminal responsibility and extradition laws, the gunmen can be investigated for murder on either side of the border. Mexican authorities just need to be creative about their prosecutorial methods, which Safford says does not often happen.
US victims of crimes in Mexico have an added hurdle to overcome as many of them flee the country without filing police reports or sticking around to exert pressure on authorities – sometimes the only way investigations continue apace, Safford says.
For example, an investigation into the alleged September shooting of David Hartley, who was riding a jet ski with his wife at Falcon Lake – which straddles both Texas and Tamaulipas – has not registered any advances. Tiffany Hartley refused to enter Tamaulipas to file a report on her husband's death and instead did so from a consulate in Texas. The decapitation of the chief investigator in the case only seemed to decrease the likelihood that the murder would be resolved.
But at the same time, Mexico and the US have also used cross-border legal complications to their benefit, says Javier Oliva, security expert at Mexico’s National Autonomous University. In June and November, US Border Patrol agents allegedly shot and killed teens on the Mexican side of the border. Mexico has demanded the shootings be treated as excessive use of force, while the US said its agents were defending themselves.
The killings in Juárez are part of a growing number of youth caught in the cross fires of the drug war, which has now affected US children as well. The UN Committee on the Rights of Children released a report Friday expressing “great concern” at the deaths in Mexico of approximately 1,000 children in drug-related violence over the last four years.