MERIDA, Mexico, Thurs. Feb. 5, 2015–Just one week ago, at the end of last month, there was quite a scare in multiple localities when rumors surfaced that the occupant of a mysterious white vehicle had been attempting to lure and kidnap schoolchildren in the Corozal and Orange Walk Districts, as well as at Queen’s Square Anglican Primary School in Belize City.
Information gathered by Amandala over the past few days suggests that shortly before the horrific reports had apprehensive Belizeans in fear, the rumor had similarly gripped residents of Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, just days before.
According to The Yucatan Times newspaper, on January 23, rumors began spreading on various social networks about a white van which was driving around Merida attempting to kidnap young children.
One message read: “Beware! A white van with several men, equipped with a refrigeration unit, and without license plates, is driving around Merida and other municipalities. These guys belong to a dangerous organ trafficking gang, [and are] seeking mainly young people and children walking around the streets to kidnap them.”
“Parents, take care of your children; do not leave them on their own. Young students, do not walk the streets alone, be careful because you may be the next victim of these animals”, another message went on to say.
One of the posts was published with a photograph of people who are suspected to be the leaders of the gang.
Word soon began to spread like wildfire concerning the alleged kidnappings, and we understand that the rumor became so viral that State authorities were compelled to make an official statement regarding the issue.
Merida State Prosecutor, Celia Rivas Rodríguez, reportedly responded on her social media account on Thursday, January 23, to assure the citizenship that the whole situation was “totally false”, and exhorted the residents to “please remain calm”.
On Friday, January 24, the Attorney General’s Office of Yucatan reiterated the State Prosecutor’s announcement, but three days later, on January 27, there were reports that Amada Fernanda Moen Manrique, a housewife of Merida, went out on the streets of Tizimin, Yucatan, armed with a rifle after her son ran home from school frightened and later declared that a stranger had approached him and offered him money to buy candy in an attempt to lure him away from the school premises.
The woman reportedly went all the way to the Abelardo Conde Ruz Elementary School, which the child attends, to confront the perpetrator; however, the alleged kidnapper was no longer there.
The report purportedly placed many other parents in that state on edge, since similar rumors were also floating around in the western state of Michoacán, Mexico.
While certain sources have indicated that the rumor is actually several years old and has been used as a prank in the past, others – who asserted that kidnappings continue to be a real problem in various parts of Mexico – have not taken the reports lightly, since
many of the notorious drug cartels in that country are known to utilize children to transport illegal drugs to the United States, either alive or dead.