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Second Suspect Captured In Murder Of Yaqui Activist Tomás Rojo

Tomás Rojo
Courtesy of Alberto Vizcarra
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handout | contributor
Yaqui activist and leader Tomás Rojo.

Sonoran authorities say they’ve arrested a second suspect in the murder of Tomás Rojo, a Yaqui activist and leader who went missing in May.

Less than a week after the first suspect was arrested, Sonoran officials say they have now detained a second person allegedly involved in Rojo's.

The man, identified as Gilberto, or “El Gil,” was captured at a checkpoint Thursday, authorities said. He is being charged with premeditated murder. Officials say organized-crime groups were looking to benefit from tolls some Yaqui members charge on the highway through tribal territory.

"Those of us who knew Tomás think that's a very simplified conjecture," said Alberto Vizcarra, a member of the Citizen’s Movement for Water in southern Sonora who worked with Rojo to oppose the Independence Aqueduct.

He said Rojo’s fight was against government and private interests stripping resources from the Yaqui people, and that authorities should be carefully following that line of investigation as well.

He added that justice for Rojo and the Yaqui people can only be served by canceling the aqueduct.

"I hope that this tragedy will be an inflection point," he said. "If there is going to be justice, and if the memory of Tomás Rojo is going to be vindicated, officials at all levels need to respect the law, what the supreme court has ordered, and cancel the aqueduct."

Rojo’s remains were also returned to his family Thursday. Funeral services started Friday.

Kendal Blust, an Arizona native, reports from KJZZ’s bureau in Hermosillo, Sonora, focusing on business and economic relationships between Arizona and northern Mexico.Prior to joining KJZZ, Kendal worked at the Nogales International, reporting on border and immigration issues, local government, education and business. While working on her master’s degree at University of Arizona School of Journalism, she did stints with the Arizona Daily Star and the Tico Times in Costa Rica, and completed a thesis project about women art activists in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands.In her pre-journalist life, Kendal was a teacher, first helping Spanish high school students learn English, then heading to Tucson to teach fourth grade.When she’s not in the newsroom, Kendal enjoys getting outside for a hike or a swim, catching a good movie, hanging out with family and friends, and eating great food.