"We don't treat these victims as just a number" - Mexican Human Rights Division chief
Last November MGR reported on the discovery of 74 cadavers in a so-called narcofosa, a clandestine grave site where drug war execution victims are quietly buried by those who killed them.
The bodies were uncovered at La Barca, a county and town of the same name which straddle the violent Jalisco-Michoacán state border. La Barca is less than a 90 minute drive from metropolitan Guadalajara, and just to the east of Lake Chapala, which has long been a haven for American and Canadian expatriates and retirees. It was by far the largest ever such discovery in Jalisco state, and the largest anywhere in Mexico in 2013. Mass grave by Jalisco's Lake Chapala held 74 remains.
Most of the dead are believed to have been members of Los Caballeros Templarios, the Michoacán drug cartel which has been all but wiped out in that state in recent weeks. Those who kidnapped and brutally murdered them are alleged to be sicarios - executioners - on the payroll of the Guadalajara based Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), also known as Los Matazetas. 20 Michoacán police officers charged as "Zeta Killers."
In a nationally broadcast television interview this week, the chief prosecutor for the Human Rights Division of Mexico's federal Attorney General's office conceded that forensic specialists simply stopped digging earlier this year, but added, "most assuredly, there are more bodies at La Barca."
Ricardo García Cervantes said the only reason excavations were temporarily halted in January was to give investigators time to try to identify the dozens of badly decomposed remains already uncovered.
García referred to the discovery of bodies at a narcofosa in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, which began in 2010 and was not completed until the following year. Of the 265 corpses eventually unearthed, only 33 have been identified.
"We don't treat these victims as just a number, or only as part of the statistical data we compile," said García. "Each one has a name, and each name is connected to a family which is in anguish, which is suffering great pain."
But he acknowledged that the Attorney General's Human Rights Division has a database containing information on 26,000 such cadaver discoveries, of which 19,000 have not yet been identified. García called his department's work one of dealing with "human suffering, a true humanitarian emergency."
Mexico's Attorney General maintains detailed records on all narcofosas. Information obtained at each grave site is carefully crosschecked with other drug war burial site data in an effort to identify victims, some of whom may have been buried years ago and whose families have long given up hope that they will ever be found.
May 13, 2014 - Matazetas ambush, kill four Mexican soldiers in Jalisco
Mar. 3, 2014 - Jalisco governor takes credit for discovery of burial sites
Feb. 21, 2014 - Jalisco prosecutor reports narco grave near Guadalajara-Chapala highway
Dec. 6, 2013 - Body count continues at newly discovered narco burial site in Guadalajara outskirts
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