Mexico City – A federal judge will decide whether to move forward with the prosecutions of the 20 suspects charged in connection with the March 27 slayings of Juan Francisco Sicilia, the son of well-known poet Javier Sicilia, and six other young men in the central Mexican state of Morelos, the Attorney General's Office said.
Julio Cesar Radilla Hernandez and Victor Manuel Valdez Arteaga, suspected of being Pacifico Sur drug cartel leaders in Morelos, and 18 associates have been charged with the murders, the AG's office said.
The suspects face organized crime, kidnapping, murder, auto theft, drug and arms charges, prosecutors said.
Judge Gabriel Alejandro Palomares Acosta is examining the men's roles in the killings of Juan Francisco Sicilia, Jaime Gabriel Alejo, Alvaro Jaimes Avelar, Maria del Socorro Estrada, Jesus Chavez Vazquez and brothers Luis Antonio and Julio Cesar Romero Jaime in Jiutepec.
Radilla Hernandez, known as "El Negro Radilla," and two of his henchmen, Juan Carlos Librado Marquez Zagal and Angel Taboada Villanueva, are also charged with the murder of Raul Garcia Martinez, a suspected gunman.
The 20 suspects are being held at different prisons across Mexico, the AG's office said.
Javier Sicilia, considered one of Mexico's best writers, and Gabriela Alejo and Jose Antonio Romero, who are related to two of the other victims in the case, held a press conference on Sunday to discuss the prosecutions.
The three are thankful for the "thoroughness of the investigation" and officials' willingness to get at the truth, attorney Julio Hernandez said.
The investigation of the murders of Juan Francisco and his friends shows that "when the prosecutors want to do their job well, they can do it," Javier Sicilia said.
"It's also a special case, and that is terrible. This should be the way all the prosecutors do their jobs on a daily basis ... this case is an exception," the poet said.
"It is not possible that just 2 percent of the cases taken up (by prosecutors in Mexico) end up solved," Sicilia said.
The courts should "administer swift justice based on the law" in the case of Juan Francisco and his friends, Sicilia said.
"All the cases (of other victims) that there are" in Mexico's wave of drug-related violence should be handled swiftly by the courts, Gabriela Alejo, whose son was one of the victims in the Morelos shootings, said.
Some 15 other people "indirectly linked to the Pacifico Sur cartel" remain free in the case, attorney Hernandez said in response to a question from reporters.
The 24-year-old Juan Francisco Sicilia and his friends were killed because two of the young men reported an extortion attempt to authorities, who were investigating the case when Pacifico Sur cartel gunmen abducted, tortured and murdered them, officials said.
Javier Sicilia reacted to his son's killing by organizing protests and marches against the drug-related violence that has claimed more than 40,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006.
The poet and journalist has called on Mexicans to push for an end to President Felipe Calderon's war against the country's drug cartels.
The poet has rallied Mexicans who are fed up with the drug-related violence that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people in the past few years and a government strategy that has done little to stem the killing.
The poet has criticized both Calderon's decision to militarize the war on drugs and the criminalization of innocent victims and their families.
Sicilia plans a peace caravan from southern Mexico to the central region of the country in September.