John Burnett, NPR News
Diana Washington Valdez at a memorial to murder victims in Juarez, Mexico.
Over the past 10 years, as many as 140 women in the Mexican town of Juarez — just across the border from El Paso, Texas — have been the victims of sexual homicides, their bodies dumped in ditches or vacant lots. Despite pressure to catch the killers and a roundup of some suspects, few believe the true culprits have been found.
A controversial new book implicates high-level police and prominent Juarez citizens in the crimes. But as NPR's John Burnett reports, the families of some of the victims believe the murderers will never be brought to justice.
Activists are deeply skeptical about the Mexican government's promise to put a serious effort into finding the killer or killers. Marches and memorials are keeping the issue in the public eye.
Diana Washington Valdez, an investigative reporter for the El Paso Times, has covered the murders for three years. In her book Harvest of Women, Valdez contends the killings are part of a circuit of parties hosted by prominent Juarez citizens.
"The best information we have is that these men are committing crimes simply for the sport of it," she tells Burnett. "We know of people who've told stories about escaping from certain parties, orgies, which some of these people were present — they were recognizable people from Juarez society, from Mexican society." In particular, she names two men with ties to the Juarez drug cartel.
"The authorities know who the killers are, and nothing's being done about it," Valdez says. "We have two issues here: people who are getting away with murder, and... authorities who have become accomplices, and so this has become crimes of the state."