Janet Sanders and Joe Zamora wanted to escape their hectic corporate life for a laid-back beach life. They found their dream home on the Yucatan peninsula. Janet and Joe signed a long-term lease for a beautiful beachside estate. However, their dream was soon destroyed by a scam artist landlord that culminated in two fiery days of terror when dozens of men armed with machetes and pistols attacked the home with Janet and Joe inside. The landlord was protected by corrupt Mexican officials.
This is a story about systemic corruption in the Yucatan. Kowalski Mexico
Dear Governor Vila Dosal:
This letter concerns human rights violations against a Mexican citizen, Joe Zamora, and
his American wife, Janet Sanders.
This occurred through mob violence that was enabled and supported through the on-site
presence of Attorney Marco Maya, the son of Comandante Marco Maya Lopez, Director
del area de Antiextorsion y Secuestro del la Seretaria de Seguridad Publica del Estado
and the second ranking official in the Yucatan Ministry of Public Security. Both Marco
Maya and Comandante Marco Maya Lopez enabled the violence.
The obscene violation of Mr. Zamora and his wife’s human rights has been clearly
outlined by Claudio Gabriel Pat Chale, Justice of the Peace in Dzemul. Following is an
excerpt from his report which states (translated) in relevant part:
“FIRST - On the twenty-first day of January of the two thousand and twenty-
two I went to the complainant’s home to reach a conciliation agreement with
the counterpart, for which I was able to notice the inhuman actions made
towards the complainant because all his personal objects had been thrown
like garbage on the road; when trying to start a conversation with a
counterparty I realized that there were some people on the property who
claimed to be the representatives of the owner, and said
SECOND - people carried sticks and machetes in order to intimidate and
prevent access of third parties to the property so it was impossible for me to
engage in a conversation with the owner.”
The issues discussed below are of the utmost seriousness and must be fully and promptly
investigated and addressed. Mr. Zamora and his wife were threatened and intimidated for
more than 20 hours. They were assaulted. They also have incurred large financial losses
through the destruction of their personal property and other substantial harm.
This situation has broader, serious implications that could impact U.S.-Mexico relations
and by extension the Yucatan economy and many more Mexican citizens. Furthermore, it
appears Mr. Zamora and his wife, a successful retired American businesswoman, are not
the only victims of such acts in the Yucatan. Mr. Zamora is also a U.S. citizen.
The Attacks on October 9, 2021, Marco Maya appeared at the home of Joe Zamora with
approximately 20 armed men. Mr. Zamora rented the home from Ms. Gabriela Cornelio
and Mr. Adam Kowalski, a married couple.
Ms. Corneilo and Attorney Marco Maya claimed they had no knowledge of Mr. Zamora
and his wife living on the property. Over a 12-hour period that followed, the men, under
Marco Maya’s supervision, destroyed Mr. Zamora’s electricity, water system, computers,
and Internet fiber optics.
This occurred even though Mr. Zamora and his wife have a signed rental agreement and
had lived on the property for five years paying rent to Ms. Cornelio’s husband, Adam
Kowalski. The destruction and intimidation ended after 12 hours, when Mr. Zamora was
finally provided an opportunity to locate and produce the rental agreement and evidence
of the numerous payments.
To rectify this situation, Mr. Zamora has carefully followed Mexican law and pursued all
reasonable legal actions. He hired lawyers and has tried diligently to work within
Mexico’s legal system.
These developments led to even more violent retaliation.
On January 19, 2022, Mr. Zamora’s home was again attacked. A group of 40 choques
armed with machetes and guns again operating under the supervision of Marco Maya,
held Mr. Zamora, his wife, and several of their employees’ hostage for 22 hours.
During this time, nearly everything owned by Mr. Zamora and his wife was destroyed or
stolen. As an intimidation tactic, many items were burned, and his pets were killed. The
monetary losses are conservatively estimated to be 4.1 Million Pesos to date.
Comandante Marco Maya’s offices aided in this attack and stood at the gate of the house
during the 22-hour attack. They not only refused to aid Mr. Zamora, but also held back,
and kept at bay, many of the town’s residents that had shown up to help. These residents
were concerned for Mr. Zamora and his wife. Police stood guard for the criminals during
the vicious attack.
When Mr. Zamora’s attorney then filed complaints and attempted to question the police,
he was detained on the periferico for hours by several police and severely threatened if he
continued with his complaint against either Attorney Marco Maya or Comandante Marco
Under Mexico law, Mr. Zamora is either the rightful owner of the property or he was
illegally evicted. He is now being prevented from having a Mexico court determine the
outcome. He is now both the owner of the property and a victim of a major crime.
Because of state sanctioned actions, though, he cannot safely visit the property, let alone
sell it. Mr. Zamora and Ms. Sanders must be provided with full restitution for the two
attacks at his home. Your intervention is necessary to find a just and prompt solution.
In addition to the documents, photographs, and videos links provided in the accompanying exhibits, there are also numerous witnesses who are available to discuss these matters.
Thank you, Governor Vila Dosal, for your attention to this important and serious matter.