By Marion V. Ali
The family of the late Ramon Cervantes Sr., on Wednesday released a recorded phone conversation, purportedly made by the prime suspect in his murder, 37-year-old Manuel Mendez Castillo.
The call was made to Cervantes’ widow, during which the caller sought to clear Mendez Castillo and incriminate a senior government minister and a number of police officers.
In the telephone conversation, made on the night of October 8 to the Cervantes residence in Orange Walk, the male caller explained that he and others were offered money to carry out the crime but he did not go along with the plan.
One of the men who carried out the killing, shot him (Mendez Castillo) in the back, rendering him immobile.
The caller went on to name a top-ranking police officer and others in the Police Department who were allegedly involved in the killing. He said that he would not go to the police and begged Cervantes’ widow, Vilma, to keep the information secret.
But the family said they felt coming forward with the information was necessary.
The caller also said he would provide evidence to exonerate himself and incriminate the persons whose names he called in the conversation. He called back a week later, but was asked to call back. Since then, he has not been heard of. .Cervantes’ widow, Vilma, said that she positively identified the caller as Mendez Castillo because he was a neighbour and family friend.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister, Gaspar Vega on Thursday made a public statement, in which he essentially disassociates himself from any involvement in the crime.
The prime suspect, Mendez Castillo, who fled soon after the killing, remains at large. He is also suspected of plotting the murder of Sonia Abac, 46, who went missing in April and whose corpse was found days after the body of Ramon Cervantes Sr. was found. She had been dumped in a well in the general area where Cervantes’ body was buried.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Cervantes’ son, Ramon Jr. said that he knows that he is the target of wealthy operatives in Orange Walk who are linked to the Mexican cartel.
He added that although his life and maybe the lives of other family members are in jeopardy, he is not afraid to come forward with the information.
“My life may be in danger but we have to go on. I am marked for death, but God will decide my destiny, not man!” he declared.
Cervantes also implored the police to do a proper investigation into his father’s homicide, particularly because the handcuffs that bound his father’s mutilated body were police-issued handcuffs. Cervantes, who is seeking political office under the PUP banner, said that the police have been tight-lipped with information since his father’s burial.
PUP leader, Francis Fonseca, who was one of hundreds who attended Wednesday’s memorial service at Cervantes’ Mamayal Farm, said he hoped the truth will emerge. He added that he was very concerned about the safety of the Cervantes family – a concern which he has made known to the police.
Ramon Cervantes, Sr., a popular businessman and former mayor of Orange Walk Town, was abducted from his cane field on July 1. His remains were discovered in a shallow grave near Honey Camp on July 5. In his younger years he was also a primary school teacher and a trade unionist.
Orange Walk police have charged three men with the Ramon Cervantes murder: Noe Daniel Gonzalez, 22, Mateo Pott, 28, and Angel Antonio Cardenas, 19.