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Oct 30, 2014 3:06 PM

Clothing with bodies matches missing Texans'

The Associated Press

MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) Clothing found with four slain bodies near the border city of Matamoros appears to match that of three siblings from Texas who disappeared in the area more than two weeks ago with a fourth person, a state prosecutor said.

Oscar Fuentes Fierro, assistant prosecutor for the state of Tamaulipas, confirmed on Wednesday that the clothes matched a description given by Pedro Alvarado, father of the three missing residents of Progreso, Texas.

Parents of the missing youths say witnesses reported they were seized on Oct. 13 by men dressed in police gear.

Authorities said late Wednesday it could take 24 to 48 hours for DNA tests to confirm if the bodies are those of Erica Alvarado Rivera, 26, and brothers, Alex, 22, and Jose Angel, 21, who were last seen in El Control, a small town near the Texas border west of Matamoros.

They had been visiting their father in Mexico and disappeared along with 32-year-old Jose Guadalupe Castaneda Benitez, Erica Alvarado's boyfriend.

Alvarado told The Associated Press on Thursday that he had not been allowed to see bodies and had not been told of a match.

Mother Raquel Alvarado said witnesses saw armed men seize her two sons and daughter, who has four children aged 3-9.

The mother said Erica Alvarado drove her black Jeep Cherokee across the border Oct. 12 and dropped it at her father's house in El Control. She visited her boyfriend there and the next morning called her brothers to ask them to bring the Cherokee to a roadside restaurant where the couple was eating. The three siblings planned to return to Progreso together from there.

When Alex and Jose Angel Alvarado arrived to pick up their sister, they saw men "pushing their sister and her boyfriend and hitting her," Raquel Alvarado said.

Witnesses said the brothers tried to intervene, but they were taken away by armed men who identified themselves as part of Grupo Hercules, a recently formed police security unit for Matamoros city officials, and were traveling in military style trucks. Alvarado said witnesses also saw federal highway police, "but no one did anything."

The Matamoros mayor's office and a spokeswoman for the city did not respond to requests for comment, though Mayor Leticia Salazar has said in radio interviews that she is cooperating with the investigation.

As night fell Wednesday, Martha Hernandez, who had raised Castaneda, waited outside state police offices in Matamoros for any word on his whereabouts. She said no one had told her that four bodies had been found.

Hernandez said a friend who saw Castaneda and the Alvarados being picked up also told her the Hercules unit was responsible, and she expressed anger at Salazar, who formed the unit, which sometimes patrols in military-style camouflage.

"We will keep searching," she said. "They can't just disappear. We are going to be like in Guerrero."

Hernandez was referring to the southern state of Guerrero, where 43 teachers college students disappeared Sept. 26 at the hands of police.

Authorities say police in the Guerrero city of Iguala attacked the students on orders from the mayor because of fears the students planned to disrupt a speech by the mayor's wife. Officers allegedly turned the students over to the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel. In a month of searching the area, including combing a ravine outside a nearby town on Wednesday, federal authorities have discovered several clandestine mass graves but no sign of the students.


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