MEXICO CITY — Kidnappers killed a 5-year-old boy by injecting him with acid after his family sought police help — a new low even for Mexico's brutal kidnapping gangs.
Mexico City Attorney General Miguel Mancera said Monday that assailants injected the acid into the boy's heart and buried him on a hill outside the capital — a death that showed the plague of kidnappings for ransom afflicts the working class as well as the wealthy.
A kidnapper seized the child at a street market in the gritty borough of Iztapalapa on Oct. 26 and the boy was killed three days later, Mancera's office said in a statement.
Prosecutors said kidnapper hailed a taxi to carry the child to a house in neighboring Mexico State. The taxi driver later saw the boy's image on a television announcement seeking information on the kidnapping and returned to the market to alert the child's parents.
Police were looking for boy
Authorities said the kidnappers asked for 30,000 pesos ($23,000) in ransom but killed the child after hearing police were looking for the boy.
Anti-kidnapping prosecutor Juan Maya told Reforma newspaper that the abductors knew the boy's parents, who he said are street vendors in Iztapalapa, but spokespeople for the agency could not immediately confirm that on Monday.
Mancera said five suspected kidnappers, including a 17-year-old, have been arrested.
The child's death recalled the recent kidnap and slaying of Fernando Marti, the 14-year-old son of a sporting goods magnate whose death prompted a national outcry against crime.
Young Marti's decomposing body was found in the trunk of a car even though his family reportedly paid a ransom. Prosecutors said a federal lawman was part of the gang that kidnapped Marti.
Outrage over that case prompted more than 100,000 people to march through Mexico City in August to demand an end to endemic police corruption and rising crime.
Some call for capital punishment
On Monday, dozens of people left messages on Reforma's Web site expressing outrage at the 5-year-old's death. Some called for Mexico to reinstate capital punishment.
"They should definitely give the death penalty to these people, who have no conscience," wrote a man who identified himself as Eric Aguilar of Mexico City. "Keeping them alive only guarantees a hidden danger for the rest of society."
Mexico has one of the world's highest kidnapping rates, according to the anti-violence group IKV Pax Christi. Kidnappings are up 9 percent this year and average 65 per month nationwide, according to the federal Attorney General's Office, which blames a growing web of drug cartels, current and former police officers and informants who point out potentially lucrative victims.
Most kidnappings go unreported for fear of police involvement. The nonprofit Citizens' Institute for Crime Studies estimates the real kidnapping rate to be more than 500 per month.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.