The Tamaulipas state government has posted cash rewards of $1.000.000 ($65,000 USD) for information regarding 15 disappeared people in Northeastern Mexico, including a telecommunications specialist, Motherboard has learned.
The official announcement comes on the heels of a Motherboard investigation into the disappearance of Felipe de Jesús Peréz García, an architect who vanished two years ago near Reynosa, a Texas-Mexico bordertown, while scouting cell tower installation cites for a regional telco. According to El Universal, the biggest newspaper in Mexico, it was released to the public on March 19, exactly two years to the day García disappeared. It's unclear if or when the report, dated February 17, was to be made public.
Neither the attorney general of Tamaulipas nor the state anti-kidnapping could be reached for comment on when and why the missing persons rewards were posted.
None of the other 14 missing persons listed on the reward notice, as far as we can tell, fit a similar profile as Felipe—or any of the nearly 40 information technology types who've disappeared in the region since 2008, allegedly kidnapped by cartels and forced to construct and service the narcos' hidden, sprawling radio networks.
Rubén Darío Rios, coordinator of social communication in Tamaulipas, told Motherboard that when it came to posting the rewards, "that's the situation of a lot of people who are not able to be localized at this moment. And the federal or state authorities, in Tamaulipas case, are offering a reward for any information about where they are. These are different people, with different levels, different gender and everything. This is not about a specific career or situation."
Tanya Elizabeth Gonzalez Vaya, Felipe's wife, said the government has never in the past offered rewards for missing or kidnapped people. She added that authorities in Tamaulipas have been questioning one Jesus Tinajero Morales, Felipe's old boss at Grupo Construgest SA, the telco he was working for at the time of his disappearance.
While we've been unable to verify either claims, Tanya's point about Mexico having never previously posted monetary rewards for intel on missing persons cases would seem to track with a historical unwillingness on the part of the Mexican government to investigate just that.
"With the reward, I feel a little more satisfied because we are accomplishing something, little by little," Tanya said, referring to advocacy groups like Ciudadanos en Apoyo a Los Derechos Humanos (Citizens Who Support Human Rights) demanding justice for the missing, or los desaparecidos. "Let's hope that someone speaks," she said.
A state agency specializing in disappeared persons cases will takeover Felipe's case should information about what happened to him come through the reward system, according to the reward notice. But with no new leads, Tanya is left waiting.
Motherboard will continue following this story.