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Searchers find a charred pit on Mexico City’s outskirts that may be a clandestine crematorium

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Followed by search dogs and police, María de Jesús Soria Aguayo and more than a dozen volunteers walked carefully Wednesday through fields of weeds and dry earth, their eyes fixed on floor.

On the outskirts of Mexico City, the group began searching for human remains and other evidence after volunteer searchers said the site could be the location of a clandestine crematorium.

The body search comes after Ceci Flores, head of a group searching for the bodies of missing Mexicans, announced on social media Tuesday that her team had found bones, clandestine burial pits and identification cards around a charred pit in the southern suburbs of the city. .

More than 110,000 people have been reported missing amid continued cartel violence, according to Mexican authorities. Facing deep impunity, “madres buscadoras,” or “mothers in search,” like Soria Aguayo, have formed their own independent groups to search for the remains of their missing loved ones in violence-torn parts of Mexico.

“I started my own search alone, tracking with my own hands and searching the countryside alone,” said Soria Aguayo, 54, whose son’s remains were found in Veracruz in 2022. “My promise to these women is to keep looking until we can’t anymore… because there are still a lot (of bodies) that we haven’t found.”

Flores’ announcement marked the first time in recent memory that someone claimed to have found such a body disposal site in the Mexican capital. The rise in violence seen in large parts of the country in recent years has not yet reached the capital – at least in its most visceral form.

Ulises Lara, Mexico City’s attorney general, said Tuesday morning that police went to the addresses listed on the recovered ID cards and “found that the two people to whom the cards belonged were alive and in good health.” .

Lara said one of them, a woman, said her card and cell phone were stolen about a year ago, when thieves snatched her phone and ID card while she was stuck in traffic.

While this rules out the possibility that the woman’s body was dumped there, it suggests that criminals used the site to dispose of evidence.

Lara said experts were investigating to determine the nature of the remains found and whether they were human. The prosecutor’s office said it was also reviewing security camera footage and searching for possible witnesses.

After hours of searching the fields of the rural suburbs of the Mexican capital, volunteers found only frustration.

While some members of the group doubted whether any bodies would be found, Flores said they planned to continue their search, adding that they had already spent two days searching the area before finding what they thought were bodies. human remains.

“If they don’t look, they’ll never find anything,” Flores said, adding that she was happy to hear that prosecutors had located the people whose belongings were found in the area.

The discovery of a clandestine crematorium, if confirmed, would be a political embarrassment for the ruling party, which has long governed Mexico City and says the capital has been largely spared the violence of the drug cartels that plague many other regions of the country.

This is largely due to the city’s dense population, notoriously congested traffic, extensive network of security cameras, and large police force, which likely make it difficult for criminals to take action. same way as they do in provincial areas.

But while the city has 9 million people and the greater metropolitan area has about 20 million, large parts of the South are still a mix of farms, woods and mountains. In these areas, it is not uncommon for criminals to dump the bodies of kidnapping victims.

Volunteer researchers like Flores often conduct their own investigations, sometimes relying on advice from former criminals, because the government has been unable to help them. The researchers were irritated by a government campaign to “find” missing persons by checking their last known address, to see if they returned home without informing the authorities.

Activists claim it is simply a attempt to reduce politically embarrassing numbers on the missing.

Researchers, primarily the mothers of the missing, generally do not attempt to convict anyone of the kidnappings of their loved ones. They say they just want their remains back.

The Mexican government spent little on searching for the missing. Volunteers must replace non-existent official search teams in the hunt for clandestine graves where cartels hide their victims. The government has not adequately funded or implemented a genetic database to help identify the remains found.

If volunteers find something, most authorities will simply send a police and forensics team to recover the remains, which in most cases are never identified.

At least seven of the activists searching for some of the missing people in Mexico have been killed since 2021.

News Source : apnews.com
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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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