The Ciudad Juarez Femicide Declassification Project

College of DuPage - Geography Department

Campo Algodonero - The Cottonfields Case

Picture: Crosses at Campo Algodonero. The bodies were found both at the site of the crosses and in the ditch just behind. Photo by Keith Yearman, personal collection.

Document Collection

Document 30: "Death Haunts Juarez Women Again." Cable from US Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez to State Department Headquarters and US Embassy in Mexico City. 7 November 2001. Cable Number: Ciudad Juarez 2018. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-02-506) to Keith Yearman.

The night of November 6, the bodies of three young women were discovered at Campo Algodonero, a cottonfield across the street from the headquarters of AMAC, the maquiladora association. Hours later, an additional five bodies were discovered at the same location. "At least one of the victims has been identified, but the decomposition of the remaining bodies will require dental & DNA testing for positive identification. In February 2001, Lilia Alejandra Garcia, a young maquila worker, was found murdered just 100 meters away from where these bodies were found. At that time, the murder of Ms. Garcia was considered an isolated assault rather than a serial murder case...Local officials have been claiming a measure of success in stopping these vicious murders by citing the drop in sexual murders this year. Unfortunately this latest discovery shows the problem is far from solved." The consulate had also been contacted by the father of a missing American citizen who feared his daughter may have been one of the victims.

Document 31: "Update on Juarez Womenqs [sic] Homicides and Missing Amcit." Cable from US Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez to State Department Headquarters and US Embassy in Mexico City. 8 November 2001. Cable Number: Ciudad Juarez 2145. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-02-506) to Keith Yearman.

Continued discussion of Campo Algodonero. "Clothing from one of the victims has been identified as belonging to Caludia Ivette Gonzalez, 20, who disappeared on October 10 after leaving work at a Lear Corporation twin plant. Authorities are doing DNA and odontological testing to positively establish if the victim is indeed Claudia Ivette Gonzalez." Regarding the missing American citizen whose father contacted the consulate, "In light of the estimated time of death for the unidentified victims established by the state judicial police authorities, the possibility of [her] being a victim is remote."

 

Claudia Ivette Gonzalez

La Foca and El Cerillo

 

Document 32: "Two Bus Drivers Arrested in the Women's Homicides Case." Cable from US Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez to State Department Headquarters and US Embassy in Mexico City. 13 November 2001. Cable Number: Ciudad Juarez 2294. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-02-506) to Keith Yearman.

El Cerillo and La Foca (Victor Javier Garcia Uribe and Gustavo Gonzalez Meza) were arrested and charged with the murders of the women found at Campo Algodonero. They claimed they were kidnapped by PGJE agents and tortured, beaten and burned with cigarettes to force confessions.

Document 33: "Security/Safety in Juarez." Cable from US Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez to State Department Headquarters and US Embassy in Mexico City. 6 February 2002. Cable Number: Ciudad Juarez 1643. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-02-506) to Keith Yearman.

"For many years, women's serial homicides in Juarez have been an issue. In 2001, there was a 12 percent increase in women's homicides from last year's statistics. 27 women were murdered in Juarez, 9 of them were sexually assaulted and are believed to be the victims of a serial murderer...In 2002, President Fox ordered that the Federal Attorney General's office (PGR) in Juarez assist in solving serial women's homicides in Juarez. The PGR has dedicated two district attorneys to review the work of the PGJE investigations. Since homicide is considered a state crime, the PGR will only act in an advisory capacity and will not intervene in arrests or further investigation. Over 70 cases are being reviewed and recommendations are to be issued on a weekly basis."

Document 34: "Juarez Attorney Dies While Chased By Police." Cable from US Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez to State Department Headquarters and US Embassy in Mexico City. 8 February 2002. Cable Number: Ciudad Juarez 1888. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-02-506) to Keith Yearman.

"A Juarez attorney, Mario Escobedo, 29, was shot to death on February 5 while being chased by State Judicial Police agents. Escobedo was the attorney for one of the bus drivers recently accused in the women's homicides in Juarez [Gustavo Gonzalez Meza, La Foca]. On February 6, Jesus 'Chito' Solis, state Attorney General, stated Escobedo died from injuries received in the creash. The autopsy report revealed Escobedo did from a gunshot wound to the head. While police maintain Escobedo fired at them during the chase, the victim's father, along with numerous other political figures and NGOs, charge that it was a state assassination."

Document 37: "Latest on Juarez Women's Homicides." Cable from US Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez to State Department Headquarters and US Embassy in Mexico City. 6 May 2002. Cable Number: Ciudad Juarez 6117. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-02-506) to Keith Yearman.

"In November 2001, state authorities found the remains of eight more women dumped in a dried cotton field ditch...DNA testing on the eight victims was requested from the Federal Attorney General's office (PGR)...On April 27, NGO representatives contacted PGR authorities to request a follow-up on the DNA testing of the victims. Surprisingly, PGR authorities informed them DNA results had been sent to the Chihuahua state authorities (PGJE) on April 17. PGR authorities reported none of the victims were identified through DNA testing. ON April 28, PGJE spokesman stated no DNA results had been received. On April 29, the Deputy State Attorney General in Juarez, Elfego Bencomo, stated instead that they had received preliminary results on three bodies and only one was negative. Yet another story emerged on April 30, when the Chief of Forensics of the PGJE, Alejandro Alberto Santos, stated two of the bodies that were DNA tested were compared to the relatives of three alleged victims with negative results and no further results had been provided by PGR."

Photograph: Looking Out From the Ditch. Note the "AMAC" building in the background. This is the headquarters of the Maquiladora Association of Ciudad Juarez. Photograph by Keith Yearman, personal collection.

Document 40: "DNA Tests Complicate Womenqs [sic] Homicides Investigations in Juarez." Cable from US Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez to State Department Headquarters and US Embassy in Mexico City. 8 November 2002. Cable Number: Ciudad Juarez 4545. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-02-506) to Keith Yearman.

Of the bodies discovered at Campo Algodonero, only that of Veronica Martinez Hernandez was positively identified through DNA testing. "The results also confirm that two victims supposedly previously identified were not among the bodies found in the cotton field, since the DNA from relatives of those two women did not match any of the DNA from the remains found...It now appears that two families buried the bodies of unknown individuals instead of their relatives."

"In October 2002, the remains of a 13-year-old girld were found in the Cerro del Cristo Negro area of Juarez. On October 28, less than a half kilometer from where that girl's remains were found, PGJE found the remains of an unidentified 18 to 20 year-old woman. Authorities have not yet released further information about these two cases and no arrests have been made."

Document 41: "Human Rights Roundup for December 2002/January 2003." Cable from US Embassy in Mexico City to State Department Headquarters. 3 February 2003. Cable Number: Mexico 000969. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-02-506) to Keith Yearman.

Brief discussion of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) which announced it would be opening an investigation into the Juarez murders and opening an office in Juarez. Also mentions a campaign to free El Cerillo and La Foca.

Document 58: "Istanbul Protocol Results: 'El Cerillo' Was Tortured." Cable from US Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez to State Department Headquarters. 5 October 2004. Cable Number: Ciudad Juarez 013495. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-02-506) to Keith Yearman.

"During an October 1 meeting between post and the office of Commissioner Guadalupe Morfin, Morfin's deputy Francisco Fierro received a call notifying him that the Istanbul Protocol procedures applied in the case of Victor Garcia Uribe, alias El Cerillo, resulted in a positive finding of torture."

Document 59: "Juarez Murders: El Cerillo Found Guilty Despite Istanbul Protocol Results." Cable from US Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez to State Department Headquarters and US Embassy in Mexico City. 15 October 2004. Cable Number: Ciudad Juarez 013961. Source: Freedom of Information Act release (2005-02-506) to Keith Yearman.

Victor Garcia Uribe was convicted of the Campo Algodonero killings, and sentenced to 50 years.