MEXICO CITY (AP) — Prosecutors in the northern border state of Chihuahua have won a 430-year prison sentence against a man convicted of killing 11 young women between 2009 and 2012 near Ciudad Juarez, an area that over the years has been notorious for femicides.
The prosecutors’ office said Monday that Pedro Payan Gloria drugged the women, forced them to prostitute themselves and sell drugs and then killed them when they were no longer of use. Their skeletal remains were found in early 2012 in fields in the Juarez Valley, a largely agricultural region east of the city.
More than 100 women have been slain in the area across the border from El Paso, Texas, since 1993, although many serial or copycat killings appear to have tapered off by late 2004 or early 2005. Victims have often been young, slender factory workers who are abducted, sexually abused and strangled before their bodies are dumped in the desert.
Few of the early cases have ever been properly investigated.
Activists and mothers of the victims of the recent killings, however, say they pressured investigators and provided information that led to the suspects. Two other people have been convicted in the case.
In 2013, the state prosecutors’ office said suspects in custody at the time ran a modeling agency, clothing store and small grocery and lured women with offers of employment.
“These businesses were used by the gang as a ‘hook’ to offer young women jobs. Once they obtained the information they needed from the women’s job applications, they used different techniques and other people to kidnap them or pressure them into forced prostitution, and the consumption and or sale of drugs,” the state attorney general’s office said.
According to prosecutors, after recruiting the women “with lies or threats” or abducting them between 2009 and 2010, the suspects held them in forced servitude at the Hotel Verde in Ciudad Juarez. There, an older prostitute would bring the women customers and report any escape attempts to a gang member who was in charge of punishing captives.
“Once the women were no longer useful for their illegal activities, they decided to kill them and abandon their bodies,” the prosecutors’ office said.
Victims, some as young as 15, were also killed if they didn’t turn in enough money.
The sentence is partly symbolic because Mexico generally limits prison time to 60 years.