MEXICO CITY – Investigators found 69 bodies in 49 clandestine graves in a community outside Tecoman, a city in the western Mexican state of Colima, state prosecutors said.
The bodies and graves were found thanks to an investigation that was conducted over several weeks in Santa Rosa, a community located outside Tecoman, the Colima Attorney General’s Office said on Tuesday.
On Feb. 5, the state AG’s office reported the initial discovery of 19 bodies in 11 clandestine graves and a second inspection found 50 more bodies in 38 graves.
After recovering the remains, authorities took DNA samples to compare the genetic profiles with a database maintained by the Colima AG’s office.
Experts will work to determine the gender and age of the bodies, gathering anatomical, anthropological and dental information, and conducting autopsies.
Federal authorities will review every DNA database in Mexico, working on the theory that some of the bodies may be those of people reported missing by their families.
As soon as the discovery was announced, 70 relatives of people who disappeared showed up at the Colima AG’s office to provide DNA samples for comparison with those of the bodies found in Santa Rosa.
The federal government will send equipment and trained dogs to Colima to continue inspecting the area where the clandestine graves were found, the Colima AG’s office said.
Government Undersecretary for Human Rights Alejandro Encinas Rodriguez visited the area and met with Colima Attorney General Gabriel Verduzco, offering help from federal authorities.
On Feb. 4, high-level federal officials unveiled a plan to try to find the roughly 40,000 people reported missing in Mexico, a program that will allow relatives to assist in the search and incorporates recommendations made by international organizations.
Encinas Rodriguez said at the time that the federal government “estimated that there are 40,000 people missing, more than 1,100 clandestine graves and around 26,000 unidentified bodies at coroners offices” across Mexico.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration is working to implement the general law that deals with forced disappearances and other types of disappearances, as well as on creating the National Search System (SNB) and the National Forensic Identification Institute.
The SNB, which should be established in March, was created by the Peña Nieto administration two weeks before the end of its term and given a budget of 468 million pesos (about $24 million) in 2018, of which only 6 million pesos (some $300,000) was spent.
The plan unveiled on Feb. 4 is the product of a series of consultations conducted by the new administration during the July-November transition with grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations and victims’ relatives.
The plan also incorporates recommendations made by foreign groups, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Red Cross and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, all of which will advise the Mexican government.