They were coming home from a party in Veracruz, Mexico, when they had to stop at a police roadblock. Then two things sealed the fate of the four young men and teenage girl in the vehicle: First, police thought they belonged to a drug gang. (They didn't.) Second, the same officers were corrupt and being paid off by the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel, reports the BBC. Thinking the five were Jalisco rivals, the officers turned them over to the cartel, which murdered them and dumped their incinerated bodies in a mass grave. The killings happened in 2016, and Mexican authorities have just issued a rare apology in the case. “I apologize for the collusion between police and organized crime that wasn’t stopped in time,” says the new governor of Veracruz, Cuitlahuac Garcia.
So far, 21 people have been charged in the deaths of the four men, ages 24 to 27, and the 16-year-old girl. Eight of the accused are police officers, but no senior Veracruz security officials have been charged, notes Reuters. "More than anything, we want to reclaim the good name of our kids ... and demand justice for them and for thousands of others who experience the same thing," says the mother of one of the five. The BBC reports that more than 5,000 people have disappeared in Veracruz over the last 10 years. (Read more Mexico stories.)