Over 600 bodies recovered from Mexican mass grave

FILE PHOTO © Margarito Perez Retana
Remains of more than 600 bodies were unearthed from what may become Mexico’s largest mass grave found to date, according to local media. It was discovered near Torreon, one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

The gruesome find was made in a 16-hectare paddock in San Pedro, near the city of Torreon, according to Notimundo news outlet, citing Grupo VIDA, an NGO representing the relatives of missing persons. 

The bones, teeth, clothing, and footwear of more than 600 victims were found lying in the site, which appears to be a crime scene, the group said.

The NGO’s representative, Silvia Ortiz, said the remains have been handed over to the authorities for further identification. Members of the Attorney-General’s office of Mexico and its forensics unit were involved in gathering the remains, as was the National Human Rights Commission.

Ranches surrounding the San Pedro municipality have become notorious in recent years as mass killing sites used by criminal gangs active in the area. According to official data, roughly 2,000 people have gone missing as a result of protracted violence between drug cartels, EFE news agency reports.

In January of 2015, the city of Torreon was listed by Mexico’s Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

Although the bodies are yet to be examined, the mass grave in San Pedro is likely to become Mexico’s largest related to drug violence.

Several mass graves containing the bodies of at least 340 victims, who are believed to have been killed in the deadliest massacre known to date, have been found around the city of Durango since February of 2012.

In 2011, 193 people were killed and buried in eight graves by Los Zetas drug cartel at La Joya ranch in the San Fernando municipality. The investigation that followed uncovered appalling details – female victims had been raped and the male victims had been forced to fight with each other to the death in bouts similar to the gladiator fights of ancient Rome.

Mass killings and forced disappearances fueled by continuous gang violence and cartel wars are frequent in Mexico. In one crime that has resonated in Mexican society since 2014, 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School went missing in the city of Iguala.

In April of this year, the Mexican Human Rights Commission, which has been investigating the case, obtained witness testimony alleging that federal police officers had been at the scene and did nothing when local police abducted the students.

Several hours before the remains were found in San Pedro, Mexican officials said that more than 3,500 body parts had been found in ranch land since April of last year.

Identification has been complicated by the deterioration of the bodies, some of which were burnt years ago by criminals trying to destroy evidence from the mass killings.