The body of Tomas Rojo Valencia, an indigenous Yaqui leader, was found on June 17, half buried, his head shattered.
Prosecutors in the border state of Sonora, northern Mexico, said they arrested a suspect in the murder of indigenous rights leader Yaqui who raised funds for his community during roadblocks.
Tomas Rojo Valencia disappeared on May 27 amid tensions caused by the months of periodic blockades imposed by the Yaqui to protest against gas pipes, water pipes and railroads that crossed their territory without consulting them.
Late Monday, Sonora’s attorney general said that a 26-year-old man Francisco Hiram, also known as “El Morocho”, had been arrested for manslaughter and was being held while the investigation continues.
LOGRA #FGJESONORA, IN COORDINACIN CON LOS 3 ÓRDENES DE GOBIERNO, #CAPTURE Yes #VINCULARAPROCESO AL PROBABLE AUTOR MATERIAL DEL #HOMICIDIO BY TOMÁS ROJO VALENCIA INTEGRANTE, GESTOR, ACTIVISTA Y VOCERO DEL PUEBLO ORIGINARIO YAQUI.
– #FGJESonora (@fgjesonora) July 6, 2021
Sonora State Prosecutor Claudia Contreras said Rojo Valencia attempted to set up a toll booth on a main highway that crosses Yaqui territory in order to raise funds for its indigenous community.
She said it was this money that was behind the murder of Rojo Valencia.
Criminal groups “were interested in the illegal benefits of imposing tolls on the highway,” Contreras said. “Tomas Rojo was pushing for the installation of a toll booth to bring order to the toll billing process, for the benefit of the Yaqui people. “
The prosecutor said Rojo Valencia’s body was found on June 17. He was half buried in a rural area near the town of Yaqui in Vicam with his head smashed, apparently by a nearby hammer.
Contreras said police were brought to the gang after discovering a gun repair sweatshop apparently linked to the criminal group.
Businessmen and truckers complained that Yaqui roadblocks seriously affect the flow of raw materials and export goods and said protesters were sometimes abusive or demanded money to allow them to pass. . In February, a truck driver drove through a Yaqui roadblock, hitting and killing a member of the group.
Mexico has had a huge problem in recent years with protest groups taking control of existing toll booths or putting up roadblocks and forcing motorists to continue. In 2020, industry officials said as many as two dozen toll plazas across the country were taken over by such protests on any given day and estimated the groups likely made around $ 150 million per year.
In late 2020, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador launched an offensive against highway takeovers, sending the National Guard and police to clear many of them, apparently without including Yaqui blockades.
Lopez Obrador made it his special project to bring justice to the Yaquis, whom he described as the most persecuted indigenous group in Mexico.
The Yaquis stubbornly fought the Mexican government’s brutal campaign to wipe out the tribe in the late 1800s and early 1900s. But they were largely defeated in 1900, and dictator Porfirio Diaz began to displace them from their land. fertile agriculture to less valuable lands or virtual enslavement on haciendas as far as the Far Eastern State of Yucatan.