The bodies of two Jesuit priests and a tour guide who were shot dead in a gang-infested area in northern Mexico this week were found after a large search, authorities said Wednesday.
The three died Monday after a suspected run-in with a wanted drug dealer in the border state of Chihuahua. The crime elicited swift condemnation from Pope Francis.
“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.
Francis said he was shocked by the killings while authorities chased the suspect.
“So many murders in Mexico,” Francis said at the end of his general audience for thousands of people on St. Peter’s Square said.
The prosecutor’s office in Chihuahua said the three were killed after Palma took refuge in a church in the town of Cerocahui to protect himself from an attack.
The office named Jose Noriel Portillo Gil as a suspect in the murders and offered a reward of nearly $ 250,000 for information on his whereabouts.
The state said in 2018 Portillo, who is also the main suspect in the murder of American teacher Patrick Braxton-Andrews, was involved in the drug trade.
The three bodies were taken from the church by a group of men in the back of a bakkie, Luis Gerardo Moro, head of the religious order in Mexico, said in a radio interview.
The killings followed the abduction of four tourists at a nearby hotel, authorities told Reuters.
Among the missing is the wife of one of the murder victims, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said, presumably with reference to Palma.