Victims’ mothers gather in prayer outside the courthouse in Ciudad Juárez before closing arguments in a high profile trial. (Mónica Ortiz Uribe)
A high-profile trial in the Mexican border city of Juárez ended this weekend in a guilty verdict for five men accused of sex trafficking and murder.
The victims were young women who vanished from the streets of downtown Juárez beginning in 2008 and throughout a period of intense drug violence. The skeletal remains of some of those women were later found in the desert outskirts of the city.
On Saturday a three judge panel declared five men guilty in the abduction and murder of 11 of those women. A sixth man was acquitted.
Judges said they believe the women were vulnerable because of their poor socioeconomic status and taken advantage of by a local sex-trafficking ring with ties to a powerful drug cartel.
Women’s rights organizations that participated in the trial consider it a milestone because they worked alongside police during the investigation.
Juárez has a long history of violence against women. In past murder cases, authorities have been accused of planting evidence and torturing suspects.