“Sol Prendido” for Borderland Beat
MISSING IN JUAREZ
The dispute for the control of human and drug trafficking in the Juarez Valley keeps migrants seeking to cross into the United States at constant risk. This valley includes part of Ciudad Juarez, as well as the municipalities of Praxedis G. Guerrero and Guadalupe. At least 116 people are currently being sought in this Bermuda Triangle.
Israel Chávez Lozano and José Luis Lozano Mendoza disappeared in El Valle and Laura has recurring dreams of her son and brother: she sees them enter her house, walk to the kitchen and sit at the table. She hears them asking for food. She sees them hungry, dirty and tired, returning from work like any other day.
According to a report by Marco Antonio Lopez, published in La Verdad, since 2010, the remains of more than 280 people have been found in El Valle that have not been identified; at least 62 clandestine graves have also been discovered.
“Most cases of disappearance in El Valle are perpetrated by organized crime groups. These are people who seek to reach the United States and somehow do not pay these organized crime groups so that they can access the United States through these routes and are disappeared,” says Carla Palacios, general coordinator of the Paso del Norte Human Rights Center.
Despite the number of reports of disappearances in this territory, there are only two open investigation files, both in this municipality, located some 50 kilometers east of Ciudad Juarez.
Faced with this panorama, the municipal president of Guadalupe, Fausto González Pérez, says he has no knowledge of human or drug trafficking in his town; while the mayor of Praxedis, Celestino Estrada Villanueva, assures that he is unaware of the issue of disappearances. However, both agree that the two communities are stigmatized by the media.
On Wednesday, November 13, 2019, Laura punctually finished her commute as a school transport driver at 7:30 in the morning. Then she stopped by for her son Israel. It was cold. The low temperatures led the municipal government to set up shelters in various parts of the city as a refuge. However, that day it remained a little above average for those days: 5 degrees Celsius in the morning.
In spite of that, Israel put on a pair of blue pants under his black jeans, a blue polo shirt with two lines on the chest, one blue and one red, three sweatshirts on top, and over the sweatshirts a blue jacket with four large bags on the front. He put on his gray bootie tennis shoes and left his house to get on the bus with his mother.
They arrived at uncle José Luis’ house, in the Ampliación de San Isidro neighborhood, at around 8:00 in the morning. Laura remembers that Israel had an uncomfortable feeling that made him hesitate. She told him that he didn’t have to leave. But he had already made the decision: to leave Ciudad Juarez to cross into the United States.
Israel was 29 years old at the time and fully aware that he had to leave Juarez to achieve better living conditions.
He left his last job in a supermarket after state agents “picked him up” leaving his workday, took his money, his cell phone and his belongings, and left him beaten in a place far from his home.
Laura accompanied her son to José Luis’ house until 11:00 a.m. when he was supposed to take his second trip in his school bus. She gave him some money, asked him to call her as soon as he was in the United States, said goodbye and left.
At 12:40 p.m. Maricela Chacón heard her husband José Luis Lozano being yelled at to come out. Juan de Dios Robles Martinez has been a friend of Jose Luis for about 15 years, he is known as “El Cholo” and at that time it had been a month since he had been deported from the United States.
Juan de Dios was familiar with the dirt roads and the route that has to be taken through El Valle to cross the border into the United States through the municipality of Praxedis G. Guerrero. He had crossed several times.
That is why he offered José Luis to take him and get him a job without charging him anything, just for being his friend. That is why he told his nephew Israel. That is why Juan de Dios was shouting outside José Luis’s house that November 13.
They got into Juan de Dios’ relative’s black Cherokee, with three other people in it, and headed for Plaza Zaragoza, where they would wait for the only public transportation bus that goes to El Valle, which passes through that area of the city between 1:00 and 1:30 in the afternoon.
The other three people who were in the truck and paid Juan de Dios to cross them, their identities are unknown. There is talk of a family, a man, a woman and their minor daughter. But no one filed a complaint about them, no one is looking for them.
A group of six people take the only public transportation truck that enters the Valley, with the intention of crossing into the United States. They take Federal Highway 2, Juarez-El Porvenir, a route about 70 kilometers long. And they are never seen again.
“My son didn’t answer my messages anymore. He would talk to my brother and send me to the mailbox, so we no longer had any communication with anyone. I don’t know what would happen, how far they would go. They told us that they had been taken off the truck, but we don’t know if it was as far as La Esperanza, in Praxedis, we don’t know exactly where they were taken off the truck,” says Laura Irene Lozano, who has been looking for her son Israel Chávez Lozano and his brother José Luis Lozano Mendoza since November 13, 2019.