Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

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Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

Esa niña de raza mixta
Fears are growing for an American who left a job in finance to motorbike through central and South America and has now vanished.

Harry Devert, 32, was last heard from two weeks ago when he texted his girlfriend on Whats App to say he was waiting for a military escort to travel through a dangerous area of Mexico.

He last messaged his girlfriend from the Michoacan state where vigilantes are battling the Knights Templar cartel.

He messaged on 25 January: ‘Just got an hour and a half long escort out of some area it was too dangerous for me to be. Stopping for lunch and ... voila Internet. ... Gonna get back on the road soon.

‘Apparently there's another military escort waiting for me in some other town... I'm running way late because of the crazy military stuff...hopefully get a chance to talk to you tonight when I (hopefully) finally arrive,’ according to CNN

He was travelling to the Zihuatanejo beach that was the backdrop for the last scene in Shawshank redemption.

He had previously written about his wild travels in Colombia where he shot an M16 and Venezuala where he said he had a gun shoved in his mouth by outlaws who chipped his tooth.

On October 19 he said he was going to buy a motorcycle, he had never sriven one before, and drive it across Mexico.

His friends have set up a Facebook page to try and help find him.

His mother Ann Devert said he had also told her that he takes risks ‘but I am not an idiot’.

His debit card has not been used since he vanished.

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2555033
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

badanov
A Darwin Award candidate.

Peace through Superior Firepower
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

Siskiyou_Kid
That depends on whether or not he has any offspring................................
Those that say, don't know. Those that know, don't say.
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

deelucky1
In reply to this post by Esa niña de raza mixta
cnn/uk are mentioned Yep!
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

Esa niña de raza mixta
If you have nothing positive to contribute how about skipping the post all together!
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

castano
In reply to this post by Esa niña de raza mixta
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

Atilla
In reply to this post by Esa niña de raza mixta
I'm not going to speak ill of the (likely) dead but that was a terrible decision on his part. Of all the places in Mexico to visit why would you go to the most dangerous? And now its his family that suffers because of it.
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

_Jack
In reply to this post by Esa niña de raza mixta
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

Chivis
Administrator
In reply to this post by Esa niña de raza mixta
oh yes!  calling on the US and UK media is gonna help so much.....

I offered to connect the family with Dr Mireles, one of the most loved and respected persons in Michoacán and one who has sources needed for any hope of answers.  they did not know of the Dr.  or much else.

the Harry's not an idiot comment is new, because I asked if he filed his itinerary with the consulate and was told, he was more of a carefree type of guy....

I would not go into any unfamiliar area without my due diligence.  In China, Malaysia, HK, Mexico, US CA  no matter, it is idiotic not to take every precaution and know what is happening before you go look at butterflies

Like Harry these people are very misguided
 
The way I see it.... the more people that don't like me, the less people I have to please
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

badanov
In reply to this post by Esa niña de raza mixta
The days of being a hippy-dippy free spirit ended in San Francisco in the 1960s, quit your day job and become a globe trotter. Now, you should have some kind of idea of what is actually going rather than going with how you want things to be.  Leaving the relative safety of the US for Mexico without understanding that places such as Michoacan, northern Tamaulipas, Mexico Federal Highway 45 between Durango and Zacatecas -- to name just a few -- are places that have criminal gangs who care nothing about your pedigree or your free spiritedness, only about your substance. And they will take the green as well as the red, not to mention your very life.

His likely death is a tragedy, to be sure, but my remark that he did something stupid should serve as a warning to others who think that the days of going to Mexico to wander without considerations of security are days still to be had, is a notion subject to as much derision and ridicule as can be expressed.  Especially when ample warning can be had at zero cost.

Peace through Superior Firepower
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

Esa niña de raza mixta
In reply to this post by Chivis
Chivis,

I too had to thought to contact the family and inform them of the auto defense group in that area that could possibly help them. Then I remembered how much I loved my life and didn't want to be the next story on BB.

When I read the story there were two things that gave me a clue as to what may have happened to him.
Harry's first mistake was stoping for internet and food once he was escorted out of the dangerous area. He mentioned in the text message to his girlfriend that he had another military escort waiting for him and that he was OVER AN HOUR LATE! That mistake has probably cost him his life.
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

choco
In reply to this post by badanov
I am pretty angry that people are piling on Harry Devert and blaming him for being kidnapped.

As one who lives not too far from Michoacan, I know many, many US and Canadian expats, as well as many more Mexicans, travel to Zihua and places nearby this time of year. Someone on a local forum posted a question re safety while traveling thru this area a couple of weeks ago, and they were assured that people were coming and going with no problems.... with the advice not to stop for lunch in Nueva Italia.

I have no idea of Harry's exact route, but I will say that he stayed at a B&B near Mexico City the day before and the owner of that B&B, Joel, indicated (per info on the fb page) that many of his customers had traveled the SAME ROUTE safely to Zihua.  Joel is obviously very concerned and has actively been working with the family to submit paperwork to proper authorities. And undoubtedly, his girlfriend must have advised him that the route was okay, cus clearly they were in regular communication. Many, many people, expats and Mexicans, winter in Zihua and travel these same main roads.

It's easy to sit in a warm comfy chair in the US and say how "stupid" people are to travel certain routes, but as a traveler, by myself, on one of the "stupid" routes, well actually two of them... I can say that hundreds and thousands of people travel these routes safely every day.  They are main arteries after all. Only a small percentage run into problems.  These roads are by no means barren and empty, they are well-traveled.

So yes, there are known dangerous roads, but if you want to go from point A to point B in Mexico, guess what, you have to take them.   So merely traveling one of the roads you identified badanov does not mean you're stupid.

I am curious, do you think the recently kidnapped pastor traveling in Michoacan to deliver a sermon was stupid?  Why did no one call him out on his stupidity for having the audacity to travel on a highway in a dangerous area of Mexico?   Or what about the people traveling on buses through Tamaulipas in 2011 or 2012 who were taken off the buses and killed?  Why has no one called them stupid?

Imo, Harry did his due diligence by taking advice from the B&B owner and his girlfriend... if they had had any serious doubts, they would have advised a different route I am sure.  As I said, hundreds of expats travel these roads RIGHT NOW during this time, along with many more Mexicans, and there have been no problems to this point. Not saying there won't be further problems, but just because there has been violence in the Tierra Caliente, people have NOT stopped traveling in Mexico.

Also, I want to mention that millions of Americans and Canadians visit this country every year... and only a very small percentage suffer a kidnapping like Devert.

So to call someone "stupid" or say they deserve the Darwin award for traveling in a dangerous area in Mexico, is in my opinion, stupid.  Everywhere is dangerous in Mexico... so what are you to do... stay home all the time?  No, you have to go on living, take precautions and give it your best shot.

And finally, I find it interesting that Peter Stacy, who was traveling on Hwy 101 between Ciudad Victoria and Matamoros at 10 pm at NIGHT on the very same day Devert went missing, is not being called stupid.

I think Devert was the unfortunate recipient of criminal activity... who knows why... but it happens, just like to the Mexican pastor and his family... but neither of them are at fault for merely traveling in Mexico, even in a dangerous area.

It's not like he was on some remote, off the beaten path, dirt road in the mountains... he, like the Mexican pastor, was on the main highway.  I suspect he was set up by the first escorts he had.  

Really tragic cus he sounds like a wonderful person.


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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

Tijuano
choco wrote
I suspect he was set up by the first escorts he had.  
A US citizen with military escort will definitely draw unwanted attention in a narco infested area, like Michoacan, I get your point of people travelling everyday through the same routes, but He wasn´t one of the usual local folks, I don´t think he should be blamed for what (most likely) happened to him, but he was careless nonetheless.

I travel frequently to Sonora, I know up and down the roads from Tijuana all the way to southern Sonora, I´ve lived my whole life in this part of Mexico and still take all the precautions I can every trip I make.

Again, I don´t blame him for his faith (That would be like blaming a rape victim for "looking hot"), but I do understand why something might have happened to him.

I have a friend on vacation right now, and of all the places he could have gone, he chose Apatzingan (can´t understand why, really), but he is taking all the precautions he can(save for actually NOT going there).

At the end, this is another innocent live who most likely fell prey to the cartel wars.
Si vis pacem, para bellum
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

choco
Thx for your thoughts Tijuano. The only thing we differ on is him being careless, I guess, cus I don't see any signs of that.

One of the posters on the FB page from Patzcuaro said she was notifying the motorcycle groups in the area, and she mentioned there were lots of them. And there are many where I live too, so that is not that rare.

The only mystery to me is how he met his first "escorts", I assume from a military checkpoint as he mentions in his last text.... but remember, the military escorted the pastor and his family too, so that is not that unusual.

My theory is someone saw him at the lunch stop and that was the start of his demise and yes, I think it was ultimately because of the cartel wars.

When I traveled last year on the two trips I mentioned, I was solo on one, and no one I met along the way could believe I was traveling alone.  But I thought that was kind of ridiculous, because what difference would another person make really?  Then we would both be kidnapped and dead?  Did not make sense to me.  

You see many, many solo travelers in Mexico... when you get out on the highways and you see the volume of traffic, it brings it more into reality.  

People have to travel sometimes and they must live their lives, just like the pastor going to deliver a sermon.
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

Chivis
Administrator
In reply to this post by Tijuano
harrys family is not even certain that is the route he took...

WARNING ONCE AGAIN...

use STEP program at the state department when travelling or living in a foreign country.  there are smart phone apps.  it just takes a minute to change a city or plans.  that way if you then go missing there will be little doubt where you may be and saves much time.

on the James  Stacy case.  we know where he was when taken between Victoria and Matamoros.  there have been 4 known kidnappings in 10 days on that strip of hwy 101.
 
The way I see it.... the more people that don't like me, the less people I have to please
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

juris
In reply to this post by Esa niña de raza mixta
I understand kidnapping for ransom.  Makes perfect sense.  But family was never asked for ransom.   They would just wantonly kill this guy for the heck of it?   Crazy
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

jlopez
In reply to this post by choco
Choco: If I believed that kidnapping victims are chosen at random, I would agree with your argument. Given the millions of travelers, Mexican and foreign, on Mexican highways, the odds of getting kidnapped should be infinitesimal, right? But there are factors that should make people think carefully. One, the government is intentionally understating the problem so tourism and business will not lose money. Even if the official numbers claim that there are 5,000 kidnappings a year, or whatever the official number is, the real number is much, much higher. The second factor is that the victims and their families cannot count on Mexican law enforcement for help. Finally, kidnap victims are not selected at random. Foreigners are easy targets because they are often clueless and have money or property worth stealing. And they are easy to spot.  
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

choco
Hi jlopez....

You state: "Finally, kidnap victims are not selected at random. Foreigners are easy targets because they are often clueless and have money or property worth stealing. And they are easy to spot. "

Following this questionable logic, one would assume that a very high number of "clueless, easy to spot" foreigners would be kidnapped in Mexico every year, correct?

Let's take a look at the numbers. The following statistics bely that hypothesis...

Mexicans kidnapped 2012 (disappeared, kidnapped for ransom, virtual and express) in Mexico: 105,000K (1)
Population of Mexico: 120,000,000
Kidnapping rate of 0.8%
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Americans living in Mexico: 1 million Americans (2)
American tourists who visited Mexico in 2013: 15 million (2)

Americans kidnapped in Mexico in 2013: Estimated at 135 (3)
{From the US State Dept. website; they state that "almost" 90 US citizens were kidnapped between April and November, 2013... extrapolating that number to the entire year gives ~135. It should also be noted that these numbers of Americans who were kidnapped are likely reliable, given that most kidnapped people's relatives would automatically contact the State Dept.}

American kidnapping rate of 0.01% if the kidnapped were MX residents.
American kidnapping rate of 0.0009% if the kidnapped were tourists.
American kidnapping rate of 0.0008% if the residents and tourists are combined.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And re your statement that "foreigners" are easier to spot, which, in this case since we're talking about Harry Devert, an American, is also not correct, because many of the US citizen kidnapping cases I read about were actually Mexican-Americans returning to visit family, altho the percentage of the total kidnapped is not known. (4)

So based on these numbers, 135 kidnappings out of 16 million Americans living in or visiting Mexico... gives a kidnap rate of 0.0008%

in comparison to the number so Mexicans kidnapped (and admittedly, altho they say the statistical extrapolation technique was sound, it could be well above 105K Mexicans kidnapped last year) with a rate of *at least* 0.8%.

That does not seem to be an unusually high number of Americans being targeted in comparison to Mexican kidnappings, wouldn't you agree?  Do these numbers indicate Americans are being targeted and kidnapped or focused upon in any way?  NO

If you were to add in the almost 400K Canadians living in Mexico and the very high number of Canadian tourists who visit, the percentages would be even lower, but I could not find kidnapping rates for Canadians and only found mention of one Canadian that was kidnapped in 2013.

Based on these numbers, there is no reason to believe Americans are a "highly targeted, easy to spot" group for kidnappers.  (Again, since we're talking about an American here, I focused on the American statistics.)

Yes, I believe Harry Devert's and James Stacy's kidnappings were both random... in the wrong place at the wrong time for whatever the reason.

Also,  given these numbers, I even more do not believe that Harry was "stupid" to travel thru Michoacan on his way to Zihua, because many, many of my friends and nearby Mexicans do the same this time of year. It is a very popular winter destination.

I have a friend living in Patzcuaro who reports no violence, and I saw posts today from two other expats living in Michoacan in areas that are also not experiencing violence.  

They both replied to an online forum where people were also trying to use the broad brush of fear to paint all of Michoacan and it is just not true.  I will find their posts and put them here so you guys can actually hear from people living there that it is not all a war zone.

One of the posters even likened the fear-mongering and hysteria about ALL of Michoacan to people saying not to visit the entire state of California back when the the Watts riots were happening in LA  (I guess he is old!  he says he is retired)...

Also, with regard to the derisive comments about having the stupidity or temerity to visit Michoacan to see the butterflies, there are many, many tours being conducted right now to see these areas... and many, many, many people travel to see them.

I think that you guys are so used to the Michoacan narco headlines that you insist the entire state is a hellhole... it is not.  And because of that bit of myopia you insist life needs to come to a standstill because of the big problems in the Tierra Caliente.

Life goes on peacefully in most of Michoacan, just not the Tierra Caliente area.  I know an author who just wrote a book of expat interviews where he traveled a lot in Michoacan for his interviews.... and he too disputes the broad brush of fear being painted for the entire state.... because he interviewed many expats living there.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
For general interest, 81 Americans were murdered in Mexico last year, another indication that Americans are not targeted or selectively chosen for violence. (3)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


(1) http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/10/31/207103/kidnappings-soar-in-mexico-with.html

The US State Dept reports that 90 US citizens were kidnapped between April and November of 2013... if you extrapolate those numbers to the entire year, then approximately 135 Americans may have been kidnapped.

(2)  http://www.bajainsider.com/baja-california-travel/mexico-travel-warning.htm

(3) http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/mexico-travel-warning.html

(4) http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/Americans-targeted-in-Mexican-border-cities-by-4891498.php#/0

"The FBI's Laredo office has collected 239 reports in the last decade {Choco: between 2003 and October 2013... I used the more recent State Dept no. of 135 (extrap) from 2013) of Americans kidnapped mostly in Tamaulipas - 121 have never been located, said Special Agent Michelle Lee, a San Antonio-based FBI spokesman."
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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

jlopez
Choco: I complain about the unreliability of government statistics and you respond with... government statistics. The statistics do not give you any clue as to why these particular victims were picked, which is what I am arguing. Not that there will be more or less victims, only that kidnappers will pick their victims because they expect that they will get something out of them. As I said at the beginning of my post, if there was any certainty that kidnappers in Mexico pick their victims at random, your chances would be excellent that you will get in and out in one piece.

The logic implicit in your argument explains why grazing animals herd together; they expect predators will pick out the weak, sick, young, stragglers. A certain amount of predation is "natural". But in a civilized world, we should not live expecting that a predator may take us with impunity if we make a mistake. In a civilized world, even the statistically insignificant proportion of kidnap victims that the Mexican government admits to should  be totally unacceptable. But just to test this insignificance, just ask yourself whether even the number of kidnap victims that Mexican authorities admit to would be acceptable in the U.S.,, Canada, Europe, for example.  Add the number of disappeared, whether Mexican or transient undocumented Central Americans trying to get to the U.S. My point is the same; you cannot extrapolate from government figures to obtain any realistic idea of what your chances are that you will be  victim, nor can you rely on the Mexican government to help you if things go wrong.

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Re: Fears grow for New Yorker and has vanished in drug war-torn area in Mexico.

choco
Oh come on.... I wrote in response to your assertion that Harry Devert's kidnapping (if in fact that is what happened) was not random and was in fact because he was a "clueless and easily spotted" American.  Can we stay on topic pls?

The reality is far, far fewer Americans are kidnapped in Mexico than Mexicans, which means US citizens, regardless of their "cluelessness", are not preferential targets of kidnappers in Mexico, period.

My point in citing statistics Is to show ONLY that far, far, far more Mexicans are kidnapped than Americans, completely disproving your theory.  

You made the comment initially  that the nos. of Kidnapped Mexicans are not accurate and are biased low... SO IF THAT IS THE CASE, IT DOESN'T MATTER WITH RESPECT TO MY CALCULATIONS, IN FACT IF THE NUMBERS ARE BIASED LOW AND MORE MEXICANS ARE BEING KIDNAPPED, IT MAKES MY CASE STRONGER to show that Americans are not preferentially targeted!!

(As an aside, in your response you have now shifted to the large no. of disappeared and kidnapped in MX and whether that would be acceptable in the US... that has absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand... was Harry Devert's kidnapping random is the question, just to get you back on target.)

In contrast to the unknown numbers of Mexicans disappeared or kidnapped in Mexico each year, the US State Dept and the FBI do keep accurate tabs on the number of Americans kidnapped in Mexico... those number are real and they are very low relative to the millions of Americans that visit and/or live in Mexico each year.

So just answer one question without all the "herd mentality" verbiage thrown in please  ;) ....

Does the number of Americans kidnapped in Mexico in 2013, approximately 135, indicate that Americans are targeted preferentially for kidnapping more than Mexicans, as you stated in your first post??

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