Colleagues of a federal legislator from Jalisco have expressed outrage after his charred body was found in the neighboring state of Zacatecas seven hours after he was kidnapped in broad daylight on the outskirts of Guadalajara.
Gabriel Gómez Michel, 49, who represents Jalisco’s 18th district in the Chamber of Deputies (Mexico’s lower house, equivalent to the U.S. House of Representatives), was abducted, along with his driver, as he made his way to the city airport on the southern Guadalajara Periferico (city beltway) at 5 p.m. on Monday, September 22.
Jalisco Attorney General Luis Carlos Najera released security camera footage showing the exact moment of the kidnapping, as several vehicles surrounded Gómez Michel’s blue Suburban, forcing him to stop on the outer lane of the busy highway.
Najera said at least four cars blocked the passage of the legislator’s vehicle, allowing two men to descend from a white Odessy SUV and board the Suburban.
Although Tlaquepaque police officers responded within ten minutes to calls made by witnesses to the state’s 066 emergency number, the municipal force was slow to react to the seriousness of the abduction, Najera admitted on Wednesday.
“There were procedural errors,” Najera said. “The officers who arrived at the scene did not ask witnesses the right questions and delayed in relaying reliable information about the vehicles involved to our control center, which could have put out a rapid bulletin to apprehend the criminals.”
Najera admitted that police were unaware of the identity of the victim for over an hour.
Family members reported Gabriel Gómez Michel as missing around 10 p.m. on Monday.
At around 1 a.m. Tuesday, Zacatecas police went to investigate a burning vehicle in a country road just north of the Jalisco border. It contained two charred corpses and was soon identified as Gómez Michel’s Suburban.
Najera called the bodies “unrecognizable” and said identification would have to wait until DNA samples had been analyzed the next day.
He also confirmed that no ransom request had been received by the family.
As expected, forensic analysis of the bodies confirmed that one was that of Gómez Michel, and the other his driver Heriberto Núñez Ramos.
Najera told reporters that the abduction was carried out in a slick, professional manner, indicating that organized crime was clearly involved. He did not offer any motive for the crime.
The Fiscalia del Estado de Jalisco (Attorney General’s Office) has handed over control of the investigation to federal authorities, although Najera said his officers are collaborating closely with their PGR counterparts.
Gabriel Gómez Michel was a member of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). A graduate of the Universidad de Guadalajara School of Medicine, he worked as a pediatrician, serving two terms as a city councilor in El Grullo, the town of his birth. He served as mayor from 2010 to 2012.
Gómez Michel specifically refused to hire bodyguards, even when he was mayor, saying that he lived a clean life so he had nothing to fear from anyone.
Hundreds of family members and sympathizers turned out for Gómez Michel’s funeral on Thursday. He comes from a large family, with 15 siblings.
Jalisco Governor Aristoteles Sandoval vowed to catch and punish the perpetrators of the crime.