Mexican and US officials confirmed last Tuesday that in late May, a violent Mexican drug cartel killed as many as 8 young workers after they attempted to quit the cartel’s call center, the Associated Press reported.
The call center, operated by the Jalisco New Generation cartel, was known to run real estate scams targeting Americans and Canadians.
Late last month, relatives of the young workers reported them missing after they failed to return home from an office near Guadalajara. Then last week, hacked-up body parts were discovered in plastic bags.
In a statement last Monday, forensic examiners from the state of Jalisco in western Mexico said tests on the body parts confirmed that they were the missing workers. However, the forensic examiners did not confirm whether the plastic bags contained the bodies of all 6 men and 2 women initially reported missing.
While the families believed their children were working at a legitimate call center, the office was run by the Jalisco New Generation cartel that has recently branched out beyond drug trafficking, kidnapping, and extortion.
According to Mexican officials, the cartel now operates call centers that defraud American and Canadian citizens with fake offers to purchase timeshares.
In April, the US Treasury Department sanctioned the Jalisco New Generation and its associates for running a similar timeshare fraud in the Puerto Vallarta resort along the Pacific coast.
While Mexican officials declined to offer a motive for the killings, one US official who spoke anonymously to the Associated Press said it appears that the workers were killed after trying to quit their jobs.
The official said that the cartel likely killed them to send “a message to other defectors,” adding that such killings appear to have occurred before.
The Jalisco New Generation cartel is known for its ruthless treatment of informants and traitors. According to the Associated Press, the “unwritten rule” within the cartel is that the only way to get out is through prison or death.