An alleged gang member wanted for the murders of two Jesuit priests in a remote mountain community in northern Mexico has been found dead, the country’s president said Thursday.
The killings of Javier Campos and Joaquin Mora in June 2022 in Chihuahua state sparked international condemnation, including from Pope Francis, himself a Jesuit.
A body found on Saturday in the northwestern state of Sinaloa was confirmed to be that of the alleged killer, Jose Noriel Portillo, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters.
It was possible that Portillo was himself murdered, Lopez Obrador had said a day earlier, when the authorities were still waiting for tests to confirm the identity of the body.
Campos, 79, and Mora, 80, were shot dead inside a church along with tour guide Pedro Eliodoro Palma, who was seeking refuge, according to their order, the Society of Jesus.
The priests had been working for several decades with the Raramuri, or Tarahumara, Indigenous people.
The Society of Jesus said in a statement that Portillo’s death could “in no way be considered a triumph of justice.”
The lack of a trial pointed to “a failure of the Mexican state in its basic duties” and suggested that “the authorities do not have territorial control” in the region, it added.
The Latin American country is plagued by gang-related bloodshed that has seen around 350,000 people murdered since the government deployed the military in the war on drugs in 2006.
About 30 priests have been among the victims over the past decade, according to the Centro Catolico Multimedial, a Catholic organization.