News
Forensics investigators search for bodies Forensics investigators search for bodies at La Bartolina, Tamaulipas.

Searching mothers plea for cartel truce to allow search of ‘extermination camp’

'We're not looking for culprits, we're looking for our children ...'

Mothers of missing children in Tamaulipas have issued a plea to the Gulf Cartel to allow them to search for their loved ones’ remains in an “extermination camp” near the border city of Matamoros.

The Tamaulipas Union of Collectives of Searching Mothers sought a “truce” from the criminal organization, which is based in the northern border state, to allow them to enter a property in an area called La Bartolina, located about 25 kilometers east of Matamoros.

“We’re not looking for culprits, we’re looking for our children, fathers, mothers, siblings and [other] relatives,” the group said in a statement.

The mothers and other relatives of missing people said they intend to stage a protest at the property to demand that authorities exhume and identify buried remains and turn them over to their families.

“As the good human beings we are, we appeal to your compassion and good heart so that you allow us to go the La Bartolina property in your city to demand that the authorities of the three levels of government do the necessary work to start to exhume the remains that they find [there],” the union of collectives said.

Signed by members of 200 families of missing people, the statement was directed to the leader of the Gulf Cartel faction known as the Cyclones of Matamoros.

They described not knowing the whereabouts of their missing loved ones as “endless torture” that is too much to bear.

The statement called on the Cyclones to respond to the request via a narco-banner, several of which were hung in public places in Tamaulipas cities last week to announce a truce between three feuding factions of the Gulf Cartel.

“… We’re relatives of missing people who just want to know if our family members are at La Bartolina; we’ll tie a white kerchief to our left elbows and carry white flags as a sign of peace,” it said.

The head of the National Search Commission said last month that federal and state authorities have been recovering remains from the site since 2017.

“Since 2017 to May 28 [of 2021] at least 500 kilograms of charred bone remains have been recovered,” Karla Quintana said.

The federal government recently acknowledged that the property operated as an effective extermination camp for the notoriously violent Gulf Cartel between 2009 and 2016. The army first detected in April 2016 that it had been used as a location to torture, kill, burn and bury kidnapping victims.

Despite the recovery of hundreds of kilograms of human remains, the family members of missing people evidently believe that more body parts are located at La Bartolina. The fact that the Tamaulipas collectives directed their statement to the Gulf Cartel’s dominant faction in Matamoros, rather than authorities, is testament to the power the criminal group holds.

Federal authorities accuse state Governor Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca of having ties to organized crime but have been unable to take him into custody due to his immunity from prosecution in Tamaulipas.

With reports from Milenio and Animal Político 

Reader forum

The forum is available to logged-in subscribers only.