GUATEMALA CITY (AP) – A Guatemalan court on Friday convicted three Mexican men and six Guatemalans of murder and kidnapping for the 2011 massacre of 27 farm workers. It sentenced them to 106 years in prison each.
Judge Jeannette Valdez Rodas said in announcing the verdict that the evidence showed “a scene of terror” at the killing site at a ranch in the northern Peten region.
The killers showed “maximum cruelty, with minds that display the maximum degree of dehumanization,” said Valdez Rodas, noting that one of the victims had been essentially gutted and had the letter “Z” carved into his stomach.
One of the Mexican men sentenced Friday, Jorge Hernandez Mendez, denied he had committed the crimes. “The truth is, I don’t regret it, because I didn’t do it.”
One of the Guatemalan men, Luis Caal Bol, also denied he killed the victims, saying “if we had a little more courage, we would say who did it.”
The killers are believed to have been working for Mexico’s Zetas drug cartel. They decapitated most of the victims. The bodies were so badly mutilated that authorities originally put the death toll at 29 because there were so many body parts lying around.
The court said the killings appear to have been a revenge attack on the ranch’s owner, Otto Salguero, for allegedly having stolen a Zeta drug shipment.
Police found a message written in blood at the scene saying: “Salguero, we’re coming for you.”
The Zetas have been blamed for extremely brutal mass killings in Mexico, like the 2010 slaying of 72 migrants in northern Mexico.
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