QUITO – The suspected people smuggler who organized the trip to Mexico by Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla, one of the survivors of the massacre last month of 72 people at a Mexican ranch, has been arrested, the Ecuadorian Attorney General’s Office said.
Miguel Dutan Meneses, “considered one of the heads of a gang of ‘coyotes’ that traffics people in the provinces of Cañar and Azuay,” was arrested Friday night in Cañar, the AG’s office said.
“Prosecutors searched Dutan Meneses’s residence and found evidence that confirmed that the suspect was the one who planned and coordinated the trip by Fredy Lala Pomavilla, the countryman who survived the massacre carried out by drug traffickers in Mexico,” the AG’s office said.
The “operation, moreover, allowed Dutan Meneses to be implicated in the trip of Edgar Alfredo Arcentales Quito, also of Ecuadorian nationality, who appears as dead on the list sent by Mexican officials,” the AG’s office said.
The search of Dutan Meneses’s residence turned up “receipts for a $3,000 check sent to a woman – whose name is being withheld to avoid harming the investigation – based in Honduras who supposedly is the people smuggling gang’s foreign link,” the AG’s office said.
Lala Pomavilla, who arrived in Ecuador last Monday and is under police protection, told Gama TV viewers in an interview last week that those who are thinking about heading north should stay home.
“Don’t go, there are many bad guys who don’t let you pass, don’t go anymore. There were 76 people traveling with me, and they killed them all. I am telling all Ecuadorians to not travel anymore because Los Zetas are killing lots of people,” Lala Pomavilla said.
The 18-year-old Ecuadorian notified Mexican marines of the Aug. 24 massacre of 72 people at a ranch near San Fernando, a town in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, and told officials that the migrants were kidnapped by armed men before they reached the U.S. border.
Marines found the bodies of the 58 men and 14 women after a shootout with gunmen at the ranch that left a marine and three criminals dead.
The Mexican government confirmed Wednesday that a second person survived the massacre at the ranch after Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa revealed that Lala Pomavilla, the first survivor identified, shared the information with him.
The second survivor is from Honduras and “has provided important information for the identification of those suspected of being responsible” for the massacre, the Mexican Attorney General’s Office and the Foreign Relations Secretariat said in a statement.
Lala Pomavilla’s information indicates that three people from the original group of 77 migrants are missing.
Mexican investigators suspect that the massacre was carried out by members of the notorious Zetas drug cartel.
The massacre occurred as a result of the war between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas in northeast Mexico, officials said.
After several years as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.