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2 Arrested for Rape, Murder in Mexico - 2001-11-13

Authorities in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua have arrested two men believed to be responsible for the rape and murder of eight women whose bodies were found last week near the border city of Juarez. The announcement comes at a time when Mexicans are feeling vulnerable to crime.

In a meeting with reporters Monday, Chihuahua state prosecutor Arturo Gonzalez gave the names of the two men in custody. He said the two suspects are Victor Javier Garcia Uribe, 22 years old, and Gustavo Gonzalez Mesa, also 22, and he said they are believed to have committed the murders in Juarez.

Both men are bus drivers, as were several other men convicted of murdering young women in Juarez three years ago. Authorities say bus drivers often have the opportunity to encounter young women on their way to and from work in local factories at odd hours.

Family members of the two accused men, however, say they are innocent. Some women's group activists are also skeptical. Just last week they marched in front of government buildings in Juarez condemning the murders and accusing authorities for doing too little to protect young women in the city. The women's groups say more than 200 young females have been killed in Juarez since 1990.

Meantime, in the west coast resort city of Mazatlan, gunmen using automatic weapons have assassinated two federal judges. The judges had been involved in drug cases. Mazatlan, in the state of Sinaloa, has become one of the most violent localities in Mexico because so many drug gangs operate there.

Such brazen crime has caused consternation among tourism officials and business leaders in Sinaloa and throughout Mexico. Some foreign companies have expressed reservations about opening operations in Mexico because of the rampant kidnappings and killings.

Last week, a prominent business organization called on the government of President Vicente Fox to do more to fight crime. The Business Coordinating Council said organized crime has contributed greatly to the violent atmosphere in the nation and that drug gangs in particular are now better armed and equipped than the police forces that are supposed to fight them.