mexico-mass-grave-holding-29-bodies-found-near-guadalajara

A forensic expert takes a photo at the site where a mass grave was discovered at El Mirador neighbourhood in Tlajomulco de ZunigaImage copyright
AFP

Image caption

Forensic experts have been examining the site of a mass grave in Jalisco state

The bodies of at least 29 people have been found in a mass grave on the outskirts of the city of Guadalajara in western Mexico, officials say.

It was near two other shallow graves in which 81 bodies were found last year.

Last week, Mexico revised the figure of people who had disappeared since 2006 from 40,000 to 60,000.

Many of them are thought to have been killed by Mexico’s powerful criminal gangs, their bodies disposed of in makeshift graves.

Officials said they had been able to identify four of the 29 bodies so far and that they belonged to those of people reported missing. Forensic tests are continuing on the remaining bodies.

All three graves were found after members of Mexico’s National Guard raided a warehouse in nearby Toluquilla on 6 November.

They were on a routine patrol of the area when they spotted armed men outside the warehouse. They raided the premises and found eight people who were being held by the gunmen as well as an large arsenal of weapons.

They arrested 15 people, three of whom were juveniles, and information provided by them led them to the three graves at a local farm.

Gruesome discoveries

The discovery of mass graves in Mexico is not unusual.

In the 13 months between 1 December 2018 and 31 December 2019, more than 1,000 bodies were exhumed from clandestine burial sites.

The area around a  mass grave discovered at El Mirador neighbourhood in Tlajomulco de Zuniga, Jalisco State

AFP

Mass graves and disappearances

Figures for 1 December 2018 – 31 December 2019

  • 1,124bodies found in mass graves

  • 395bodies identified

  • 9,164people reported missing

  • 43%were found

  • 5,184remain missing

Source: Mexican government

Some are believed to have been gang members killed either by their own gang for perceived trespasses or by rival gangs. Others were kidnapped for ransom and killed when their relatives were not able to pay up. Others were killed for entering territory controlled by a gang or because they were perceived as a threat by a criminal group.

The state of Jalisco, where Guadalajara is located, is one of the five Mexican states where the biggest number of the clandestine graves have been found. The others are Colima, Guerrero, Sinaloa and Veracruz.

While the graves are mostly found in rural areas, bodies have also been dumped in homes in Guadalajara as criminals realise it is more difficult for police to search private properties.

Read: Mexico missing: The city where ‘you can feel the fear’

In some areas, relatives of the missing have banded together and are digging for the remains of their loved ones themselves whenever they get a tip-off about the location of a suspected mass grave.

Fore more on the relatives turned searchers read: The Searchers: Mexican women who look for the dead

In November, the government of President Andrés Manuel López created an online portal where people can report people missing, in an effort to get more accurate figures of the number of disappeared.