Authorities have found 24 bodies in a secret grave in the municipality of Coeneo, Michoacán.
State Attorney General Adrián López Solís told a press conference on Thursday that several of the victims had been dismembered and decapitated prior to burial on an abandoned construction site in the community of Comanja. The bodies of five women are among the 24 found, he said.
López said that the victims were aged between 20 and 40 and that the majority appear to have been deceased for between four and six months. Stab wounds to the neck have been identified as the possible cause of death for some of the victims, he added.
The remains were taken to a Michoacán morgue, where autopsies and tests aimed at determining the identity of the victims will be carried out.
The attorney general said that authorities discovered the existence of the secret grave and its location after the arrest last week of nine members of a criminal cell in the municipality of Pátzcuaro. Excavations began on Tuesday afternoon and concluded just before 10:00 p.m. Wednesday.
Authorities also seized a car and four pick-up trucks from the site, located northwest of the Michoacán capital Morelia. Carjacking reports for three of the pick-ups had been previously filed.
The discovery of hidden graves is a common occurrence in Mexico, especially in states with a strong organized crime presence. National Search Commissioner Karla Quintana said last August that more than 3,000 secret graves containing almost 5,000 bodies had been found since 2006.
In early 2019, Deputy Interior Minister for Human Rights Alejandro Encinas described Mexico as an “enormous hidden grave.”
He said last month that 1,124 bodies had been found in 873 hidden graves since President López Obrador took office in December 2018.