A citizens’ search brigade says it found 42 bodies in the desert outside Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, on Thursday and Friday.
The Searching Mothers of Sonora, a group that has taken up the search for the disappeared victims of drug cartels in the absence of official efforts, located the bodies near the Puerto Peñasco-Caborca highway.
However, state officials have confirmed the discovery of only 13 or 14 bodies. The brigade tweeted later that the state Attorney General’s Office (FGJE) only helped recover 14 of the bodies, “leaving the rest to the animals.”
That accusation came despite a pledge by the FGJE that the brigade would no longer be alone in its efforts to find missing people in the area.
It promised protection during their search efforts, technical assistance from forensic experts, psychological attention and the support of the forensic sciences laboratory in order to perform DNA tests on the remains they find.
Strained relations between authorities and citizens’ search organizations, of which there are several across Mexico, are not uncommon due to inattention to the issue of missing persons by government. There are more than 40,000 people on the National Registry of Missing and Disappeared Persons, of whom many if not most were probably victims of organized crime.
The FGJE repeated a call for families with disappeared loved ones to submit DNA samples to its database in order to identify remains.
Although Puerto Peñasco has not seen as much violence as other parts of Mexico, the Sinaloa Cartel is known to operate in the tourist destination on the Gulf of California.
Last week’s search was the second carried out by the Searching Mothers of Sonora this year. In May, another search by the group turned up 18 bodies.