Residents of San Luis Rey demand justice
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
Residents of colonia San Luis Rey are urging the Ministerio Público (District Attorney’s Office) to do its job, because recently several dogs in the neighborhood have been mutilated and killed. They are afraid that this type of crime could worsen. Although these crimes have been reported at the Ministerio Público (MP), District Attorney René Urrutia said that there are no formal reports of the facts. The director of the Public Security Department, Gabriel Arturo Yáñez, said that they have received reports about these cases, but they were reported too late.
Colonia San Luis Rey is located in the northern part of the city and is surrounded by other neighborhoods such as Montes de Loreto, Santa Cecilia, Francisco Villa and Colonia Insurgentes, among others. According to the INEGI (National Institute of Statistics and Geography) and the SEDESOL (Secretariat of Social Development) the neighborhood is highly marginal. The area has an approximate population of 10,000 inhabitants. Near San Luis Rey there is a community center sponsored by the state government that offers English, computing and painting classes for 40 children, but it does not have programs for teenagers.
Rosa Alvarado (alias), a member of a group that protects domestic animals and has more than 20 members in San Luis Rey, spoke to Atención and said that from January to April residents have found the
mutilated corpses of dogs on the unpaved roads in the neighborhood. She also remarked that they have reported the facts to the Ecology and Public Security Departments, but when the officials arrived all they said was, “We cannot do anything because they are animals.” According to Alvarado, the group perpetrating these crimes is a gang of 20 teenagers who are also addicted to drugs.
“We have seen enough of what has been done to these animals during the last few months,” said Regina Juárez (alias), another member of the group. “It is very savage, but that is what we have in the neighborhood and we are concerned about it.” She does not feel bad for the animals, she said, because they are “resting now,” but she is worried about the teenagers, whom she fears later may move on to human targets. In her digital camera she has several photos of dead animals that she has found herself. Alvarado also commented that a video of several people wounding a dog was uploaded to a social network but was deleted later. Thanks to that video, they identified three of the aggressors, and they went to the Specialized District Attorney for Juvenile Crime to file a criminal complaint, but they were ignored. Juárez also commented that several times they have gone to the District Attorney’s Office to file criminal complaints but the ministerial officers told them that they could do nothing because the law does not protect animals.
Alvarado also said that in the neighborhood there are 10 gangs, but only one is involved in this kind of crime. She remarked that once a dog was killed by one of the gang members on the street in full view. “We always call the police and the Ecology department, but now they do not want to come because the people assault them. She commented in addition that they have not tried to talk with the gang members’ parents because they defend their children and are very aggressive.
Consequently, residents are urging Mayor Mauricio Trejo, “who respects the law and is very conscientious,” to help them. “We have the proof,” they said. They urge him to put pressure on the MP to bring justice “because in the MP they ignore us and mistreat us instead of helping us,” said Alvarado.
On Tuesday, April 29, a resident of San Luis Rey called Atención to report that a donkey had been mutilated. Atención visited the area but only found a group of addicts inhaling solvents and taking a shower at a SAPASMA (water department) well. While walking around the area we noticed excessive graffiti and destruction of property. SAPASMA told Atención that they are not aware of people using drugs in the area, but that the metal fence surrounding the well had been stolen and they filed a criminal complaint with the district attorney. They remarked that they are not in charge of the whole area because it is private and their only duty is to maintain the well, which is not guarded.
What the authorities say
The director of the Public Security Department said that they have not received more than three reports of these crimes at the 066 emergency system. They were reported up to three days after, so nothing could be done, because the criminals were not caught in the act. The director also commented that they received the report of a mutilated donkey but they did not find the corpse in the indicated area.
About the neighbors’ fear that the gang members could perform these acts against a human being in the future, Arturo Yáñez acknowledged that psychologically it is not a healthy activity but the idea of escalating to harming humans would be a big leap. He hazarded a guess that most of the killers behind bars in the state did not experiment with animals before murdering a person.
The Ecology Department is responsible for protecting domestic animals. City councilor José Luis Zavala Rosiles said that if the public servants of that department have told residents that they can do nothing, then they
are not doing their job and a complaint can be filed in the office of the municipal comptroller to begin an investigation and punish the employees. The coordinator of complaints at that office said that the process is very simple and similar to a criminal complaint filed with the district attorney. That office is located within the city hall building.
What the law says
The district attorney in San Miguel de Allende, René Urrutia made it clear that this kind of activity is a crime according to the Guanajuato Penal Code, Chapter 4, Articles 297 and 298. Urrutia also commented that the code does not prescribe jail for those who kill animals, but the punishments range from a fine of 10 to 100 minimum wages in the state and 90 days of community service.
The DA remarked that in the Ministerio Público they have not received formal denouncements of these crimes but they have unofficial information about it. “Without a formal criminal complaint, we cannot begin an inquiry,” he said. He noted that he does not dispute that the residents of San Luis Rey have come to file a criminal complaint, and due to the lack of knowledge of the code on the part of the ministerial police officers the complainants have been told that they cannot do anything. Urrutia said that he would look into the case immediately to be sure that next time the personnel know the law. The DA also commented that when there have been reports in the 066 emergency system ministerial police officers have gone to the colonia to look for proof to start an investigation, but up to now they have found nothing.
Before going to press, Vìctor Velázquez, director of the Ecology Department told Atención that in his area they have not received written or telephonic reports of the facts. The director also assured that the Ecology employees know the local regulation for protecting the animals, which punishes those who mistreat them with fines up to 10 thousand pesos. Velázquez remarked that that since last year they have been placing informative posters which also include the 066 emergency numbers to report this crime.