A mob of some 100 people in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo on Thursday burned a detective alive and severely beat three other men over rumors that they were kidnappers planning to abduct children, the AP reports. Authorities say they will bring members of the mob to justice, likely with the help of recordings of the attack, which happened in the town of Metepec. "Let it be clear, inciting or promoting these kinds of acts is a crime," the prosecutors' office said. Such vigilante attacks are hardly rare in Mexico. For instance, at least four people were killed by mobs in a single week in late August, Fox reports, including two men who were burned to death and a man and a woman who were beaten and burned.
The violence is often spurred by false rumors on social media and WhatsApp that child snatchers, or robachicos, are in an area, the Los Angeles Times reports. In one instance, a man and his nephew were in a village to buy fencing material when a mob attacked, abducted, and ultimately burned them to death. "It was like a great spell had overtaken the people," one witness tells the Times. In another episode, per the AP, a mob near Mexico City beat and burned two federal agents who were investigating a case. In yet another, two young men were beaten to death while conducting a commercial survey on tortilla consumption. Police have reportedly cautioned people not to believe the rumors they read on social media. (Read more Mexico stories.)