French expats in Mexico mourn death of restaurant owner

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The French expat community in Mexico City will hold a march on Monday afternoon in memory of Baptiste Lormand, a French restaurant owner found dead at the weekend, targeted by thieves who stole bottles of expensive wine he and a colleague were delivering.

Locals left flowers and candles at a makeshift shrine in front of the restaurant in the upscale area of Polanco on Sunday.

Baptiste Lormand, 45, who also held Mexican nationality, was the owner of Surtidora Don Batiz, a restaurant in Polanco, an upscale neighborhood near Mexico City center, home to many foreign businessmen, diplomats, and journalists.

Mexican authorities on Sunday that Lormand was attacked and killed alongside his Mexican business associate Luis Orozco while delivering expensive French wines in the city.

The pair were found at 2 a.m. local time on Saturday morning in the south of the city, on a dirt road in the municipality of Tlapan, hands tied behind their back.

“Apparently, the two men were stripped of bottles of wine of great market value,” the city’s security secretary, Omar Garcia Harfuch, told a press conference on Sunday.

Harfuch said Lormand had been reported missing on Friday and a search notice had been issued, however, there was no indication that the two men had been kidnapped.

The spokesperson for the Attorney General of Mexico City, Ulises Lara Lopez thus argued that the men had stopped using the services of couriers “in order to reduce the high costs of transport costs due to the Covid pandemic, ”which is raging in Mexico.

“Everything suggests someone wanted their merchandise. This is one of the main tracks that investigators follow, ”added the spokesperson.

The mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, condemned the killings and said she telephoned the French ambassador to Mexico, Jean-Pierre Asvazadourian, who took office in mid-October.

“These homicides are of great concern to us. I called the ambassador to express our solidarity to him, to assure him that we are doing everything to bring the investigation to its conclusion and to do justice,” she said at a press conference.

Hundreds of people called for justice for the murders of Baptiste Lormand and Luis Orozco

Hundreds of people demonstrated in the streets of the Polanco neighborhood, in Mexico City, to demand justice in the murder of the French businessman Baptiste Lormand, and his partner, the Mexican Luis Orozco.  November 30, 2020.

Authorities began searching for both men and found their bodies early Saturday on an abandoned highway in Tlalpan, south of the capital. Lormand and Orozco had blows to the head and their hands were tied behind their back.

Mexico City police opened an investigation and a man believed to be involved in the killings was arrested Monday.

The double murder occurred in the middle of a lavish wine sale

Polanco is one of the most exclusive areas of Mexico City and is where the French Baptiste Jacques Daniel Lormand opened the ‘Surtidora Don Batiz’. The restaurant was known to the French community in the capital and for being located in a luxurious neighborhood near the city center, where many foreign businessmen, diplomats, and journalists live.

The spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico City, Ulises Lara López, told the media that on Thursday when the businessman disappeared with his business partner, the Mexican Luis Orozco, both were carrying out a sale of alcohol valued at 25,000 Dollars.

On Sunday, authorities revealed that the men were killed while handing out bottles of ‘grand cru’ wine, as premium quality products are known and, in this case, wines from renowned vineyards.

“Everything suggests that they wanted to steal the merchandise. This is one of the main avenues followed by the investigators,” added the spokesman.

Jean Pierre Asvazadourian, ambassador of France, assured that his country is in close relationship with the Mexican authorities: “it is our duty as an embassy to support and be in solidarity with the family (of the French-Mexican citizen). I had telephone contact with the head of government from Mexico City and assured me that they are doing everything possible to see justice done. “

A march against homicides in Mexico

At the demonstration on Monday, November 30 in Mexico City, the attendees dressed in white and with banners demanded justice for this double crime.

“It is a call to the authorities to really end this insecurity that exists in Mexico City and at the national level. Please do something because it cannot be that these events continue to happen,” said Gabriela Cortés, close to Lormand.

Many people who have businesses in the Polanco sector report that they have been victims of assaults, robberies, and extortion by organized crime gangs operating in the Mexican capital.

Protesters in Mexico City called for an investigation into the deaths of Baptiste Lormand and Luis Orozco.  November 30, 2020.
Protesters in Mexico City called for an investigation into the deaths of Baptiste Lormand and Luis Orozco. November 30, 2020 © Henry Romero / Reuters

In the case of the two murdered men, the authorities assure that this is not the first time that this modus operandi has been applied in the context of the sale of alcoholic beverages.

In Mexico, the number of homicides has continued to increase since 2006. According to official figures, in 2019 there were more than 30,000 victims, a figure that could increase in 2020, according to projections of the Government of that country.

Source: france24.com,RFI

Mexico Daily Post

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