AP NEWS

Mexican missing persons search effort finds 873 burial pits

January 7, 2020 GMT

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s national search effort to find tens of thousands of missing people has so far uncovered 1,124 corpses in 873 clandestine burial pits, officials said Monday.

The country’s National Search Commission said that in its first 13 months of work, only about one-third of the bodies found were identified and less than a quarter of the total had been turned over to relatives.

While Mexico faces a backlog of about 40,000 missing-persons cases dating to the country’s 2006-2012 drug war, it also faces a crisis of unclaimed or unidentified bodies.

The government has set up DNA databases to help identify bodies, but the majority of bodies found in clandestine burial pits still go unidentified.

In all, since the 1960s, over 61,000 people have gone missing in Mexico, but the bulk of them vanished during the drug war.

Historically, the highest number of missing — and largest number of body pits — have been registered in the northern border state of Tamaulipas.

Such unmarked pits are frequently used by drug and kidnapping gangs to dispose of the bodies of their victims or rivals.

The commission said about a third of the corpses found the last 13 months were located in just three of the country’s 31 states: the northern state of Sinaloa, the Gulf coast state of Veracruz and the Pacific coast state of Colima.

But many of the most recent cases of disappearances have been centered in the western state of Jalisco, home to the drug cartel of the same name.