Dead bodies of Jesuit priests and tour guide found in Mexico

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MEXICO CITY – The bodies of two Jesuit priests and a tour guide shot dead this week in a gang-ravaged area of ​​northern Mexico were found on Wednesday after a major search, officials said.

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The three were killed on Monday after an alleged confrontation with a wanted drug dealer in the border state of Chihuahua, a crime that was quickly condemned by the pope.

“We found and recovered… the bodies of Jesuit priests Javier Campos, Joaquin Mora and tour guide Pedro Palma,” Chihuahua Governor Maria Eugenia Campos said in a video posted on social media.

Pope Francis said he was shocked by the killings as authorities searched for the murder suspect.

“So many deaths in Mexico,” Francis said at the end of his general audience for thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

The Chihuahua state attorney’s office said the three were killed after Palma took refuge in a church in the city of Cerocahui to protect himself from an attack.

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The office named José Noriel Portillo Gil as a suspect in the murders and offered a reward of five million pesos, or nearly $250,000, for information on his whereabouts.

The state said in 2018 that Portillo, who is also the prime suspect in the murder of American professor Patrick Braxton-Andrews, was involved in the drug trade.

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The three bodies were removed from the church by a group of men in the back of a pickup truck, Luis Gerardo Moro, head of the religious order in Mexico, said in a radio interview.

Chihuahua Attorney General Roberto Fierro said authorities are also looking for two missing brothers believed to have been kidnapped by Portillo on Monday before the killings.

Fierro said the men recently played a baseball game against a team sponsored by Portillo, which ended in an argument after Portillo’s team lost. Portillo on Monday shot one of the brothers in a house, which he set on fire, Fierro said, according to witnesses.

Fierro also confirmed that a missing woman and child were safe.

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