QUITO – An Ecuadorian court has convicted a human-trafficking suspect due in part to testimony from a man who was taken to Mexico by the smuggler and survived a 2010 massacre there in which 72 other undocumented migrants were killed.
After a five-hour trial, a court in the central province of Cañar found Jose Arcesio Vasquez Marin guilty and said it would hand down its sentence within 72 hours, Ecuador’s Attorney General’s Office and Interior Ministry said in separate statements.
The survivor of the massacre, Fredy Lala Pomavilla – who identified Vasquez Marin -, his wife, his father, a Judicial Police officer and a doctor all testified in court even though the Interior Ministry said some of the witnesses had received death threats from the defendant.
The massacre occurred at a ranch in the northern Mexican municipality of San Fernando in August 2010, when a large group of migrants were abducted from buses and shot execution-style.
Lala Pomavilla was badly wounded but managed to escape and alert the Mexican authorities, who subsequently found the bodies of migrants from Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The survivor said members of the Los Zetas drug cartel, considered Mexico’s most violent criminal organization, killed the migrants after they refused to work for the gang.
He and his family have been placed in a witness-protection program.
In Tuesday’s trial, Dr. Miguel Mendez testified that Lala Pomavilla was shot in the neck and right cheekbone and suffered permanent psychological damage.
Prosecutors submitted as evidence a list of calls made from Vasquez Marin’s cellphone, bank deposits and records of the migratory trail of Lala Pomavilla and his father.
The defendant had been a fugitive from March 2011, when charges were filed against him, until Aug. 1 of this year, when he was arrested in the southwestern Ecuadorian province of El Oro. EFE