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U.S. Lawmakers Tour Mexican Slayings Site

October 13, 2003

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) _ A delegation of U.S. lawmakers on Sunday toured sites where police found some of the victims of more than 90 sexually motivated killings committed against women since 1993 in this rough border city.

The 1993 Juarez slayings remain unsolved following a decade of what victims’ families describe as a futile investigation, tainted by inept and corrupt police work.

``It’s incredibly sad and I feel a lot of anger to see the impunity with which the criminals act,″ said Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. ``One thing is clear, this cannot be the last visit to Ciudad Juarez.″

Headed by Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calf., the all-Democrat delegation also includes Reps. Ciro Rodriguez and Silvestre Reyes of Texas. All four legislators are members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

On Saturday night, the legislators met with about 40 relatives of slaying victims at a downtown hotel and listened to their requests that American DNA experts and criminologists be asked to intervene in the Juarez cases.

``It’s apparent that there hasn’t been a genuine effort to try to find out who is doing this,″ said Rodriguez, D-Texas, said at a news conference following the private meetings.

In recent months, 16 women also have been killed or are missing and feared dead in the nearby city of Chihuahua. Eight of those cases are believed to be sexually motivated.

``We have lost all trust in the state government but we have always had faith that international support could help us,″ said Norma Ledesma. Her 16-year-old daughter Paloma disappeared in March 2002 in Chihuahua and was later found dead.

Human rights groups and associations representing the families of the slain women have long requested that the Mexican government seek outside help in solving the killings.

But the government of Chihuahua state, where Juarez is located, has only asked the FBI to provide training and profiling work, said Art Werge, a spokesman for the FBI office in El Paso.

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