Bodies of priests and tour guide killed in Mexico found, suspect named

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Jesuit priests and a tour guide are killed after an alleged altercation with a wanted drug trafficker in Mexico’s border state of Chihuahua

The bodies of two Jesuit priests and a tour guide shot dead this week in a gang-ravaged area in northern Mexico have been found after a major search, authorities said on Wednesday (June 22).

The three men were killed on Monday after an alleged altercation with a wanted drug trafficker in the border state of Chihuahua, a crime that was quickly condemned by the Pope.

“We found and recovered…the bodies of Jesuit priests Javier Campos, Joaquin Mora and tour guide Pedro Palma,” Chihuahua Governor Maria Eugenia Campos said in a video posted on social media.

Pope Francis said he was shocked by the killings as authorities searched for the murder suspect.

“So many killings in Mexico,” Francis said at the end of his general audience before thousands in St. Peter’s Square.

The Chihuahua prosecutor’s office said the three men were killed after Palma took refuge in a church in the town of Cerocahui to protect himself from an attack.

The bureau named Jose Noriel Portillo Gil as a suspect in the murders and offered a reward of five million pesos, or nearly $250,000, for information relating to his whereabouts.

The state said in 2018 that Portillo, who is also the prime suspect in the murder of American teacher Patrick Braxton-Andrews, was involved in drug trafficking.

The three bodies were removed from the church by a group of men in the back of a van, Luis Gerardo Moro, leader of the religious order in Mexico, said in a radio interview.

Chihuahua Attorney General Roberto Fierro said authorities are also looking for two people who were abducted on Monday before the priests and tour guide were killed.

Authorities had told Reuters on Tuesday that the killings followed the abduction of four tourists from a nearby hotel. However, Fierro said Wednesday that the state has not reported any missing tourists.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the wife of one of the murder victims was among those missing, apparently referring to Palma. – Rappler.com

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