EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Marvin Alberto Tomás wanted to be a soccer star in his native Guatemala, but economic reality set in.

“(He) was a talented young man, full of life but above all with a dream of reaching his goals in soccer,” said William Matias, vice president of Juventud Comiteca, a club in Guatemala’s 3rd Division soccer. “However, given the conditions of poverty we live in our country, he had to leave behind his dream to pursue the badly-named American Dream.”

The journey to the U.S. border cost Tomás his life, as he was among the 19 charred bodies Mexican authorities in the state of Tamaulipas found inside a vehicle late Friday afternoon, Matias said.

Marvin Alberto Tomás (photo from Facebook)

“We are dismayed by this vile massacre effected on our countrymen in Mexico, especially for Marvin, a young man barely 22 years old,” Matias said Monday in a video posted on Facebook.

According to Tamaulipas state authorities, the victims were shot to death, then incinerated. No bullet casings were found in the remote area where the bodies were set ablaze inside two abandoned vehicles, so it’s likely they were killed elsewhere.

The vehicles were found in Santa Ana, a small town near Camargo, which is south of Rio Grande City, Texas.

Police in Tamaulipas say they are working with officials from neighboring Nuevo Leon. Both states border Texas, with Tamaulipas being a battleground between Mexican cartels – the Gulf and former Zetas, known as Northeast Cartel – for control of drug and migrant smuggling into the U.S., according to U.S. security analysts.

A spokesman for Tamaulipas state police on Monday told Border Report that DNA tests are pending for the positive identification of the victims. He said he was aware of Guatemalan press reports identifying the victims as migrants, based on accounts from their relatives.

Some Central American media outlets reported that relatives the migrants said they set out for the United States on January 11 and were gunned down by the Northeast cartel, believing they were the property of the rival Gulf cartel.

Late on Monday, the Guatemalan foreign ministry issued a statement saying it is working with government officials in Mexico to confirm the identity of the victims.

“The Ministry on Monday met with a group of relatives and friends of the presumed victims. (The relatives) received specialized attention and were informed about the procedures to follow to determine the identity of the deceased,” the statement said. DNA tests were taken from immediate relatives during the day.

Meantime, Juventud Comiteca team officials said a belated goodbye to Tomás, also known as “Lefty,” one of their former stars.

“Thank you, Marvin for your commitment, for your efforts. Thank you for wearing our colors and for representing our community with dignity. We will miss you, warrior,”  Matias said.

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