Mexican authorities have confirmed the gruesome discovery of eight bodies, belonging to young workers who had gone missing after allegedly attempting to leave their jobs at a call center near Guadalajara. The call center, unbeknownst to the families, was operated by the Jalisco New Generation cartel, Mexico’s most violent gang, which has expanded its criminal activities beyond drug trafficking.
Forensic examiners in the state of Jalisco confirmed that the hacked-up body parts found in plastic bags belonged to the missing call center workers. The victims, six men and two women, disappeared between May 20 and May 22. While the motive behind their killings has not been officially disclosed by Jalisco officials, an anonymous U.S. official stated that it appeared the victims were murdered by the cartel after attempting to quit their jobs.
The Jalisco New Generation cartel is notorious for its brutal treatment of those deemed traitors or defectors. Informants or individuals who have worked for the cartel are often faced with death or imprisonment as the only means of exiting the gang. The killing of the call center workers is seen as a warning to deter others from leaving the criminal organization.
The cartel’s involvement in operating call centers stems from their involvement in a timeshare fraud targeting Americans and Canadians. This fraudulent scheme, aimed at scamming money from unsuspecting victims through fake offers to purchase their timeshares, was exposed in April when the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on members and associates of the cartel involved in a similar operation in Puerto Vallarta.
According to an activist group for families of the disappeared, around 15,000 people are missing in Jalisco, out of a nationwide total of approximately 112,000. Call centers are a significant source of employment in Mexico, particularly for young people and migrants who may have acquired English language skills while in the United States.
The FBI has issued warnings about timeshare fraud in Mexico, with scammers targeting individuals seeking to sell their timeshares. Victims are contacted via email and asked to pay taxes or fees before the deal is finalized, only to find that the transactions never materialize. In 2022 alone, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 600 complaints with losses amounting to approximately $39.6 million from victims targeted by scammers involved in timeshare fraud.
The recent discovery of the murdered call center workers underscores the dangerous activities carried out by criminal organizations in Mexico and highlights the need for increased efforts to combat such violence and protect vulnerable individuals from falling victim to scams and extortion.