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The search brigade at yesterday's press conference. The search brigade at yesterday's press conference.

Veracruz search finds remains in 15 areas

But most were so badly burned that identification will be difficult

The newly-launched National Search Brigade for Disappeared People concluded its first two weeks by locating human remains in 15 different areas in the state of Veracruz.

Armed with metal rods, shovels and picks, the brigade is made up of volunteer searchers from Guerrero, Coahuila, Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Baja California, people who have lost relatives and have participated in searches in their home states. In Veracruz, they looked for signs of mass executions or unmarked graves after receiving missing persons reports.

“. . . we received reports of 40 cases of missing people, all documented by their relatives, including DNA samples. Their fear, and neglect by the authorities, kept them from receiving any official help to file a legal complaint,” said brigade member Alma Rojo at a press conference yesterday.

And, she said, “People are still afraid.” At least 70 families approached the search brigade, but only 40 chose to provide them with information and genetic samples.

For brigade member Juan Carlos Trujillo, many cases of missing people are linked to the state police; local families are “helpless and do not trust the state Attorney General’s office.”

Many of the human remains found by the volunteers were in the form of small, scorched bone fragments, but the searchers were unable to say how many people those fragments belonged to. All the remains have been turned over to state authorities for identification, although brigade members doubted that any genetic material would be available for testing, given the extent to which they had been burned.

Rojo described what has been taking place in Veracruz as horrifying, using the same term to describe the activities of organized crime and “how they’re murdering so many people.”

“We’re finding [human remains] with barely anything. We don’t have technology, or training, or education or money. We’ve shown the government that what’s missing is the will [to do something],” said searcher Mario Vergara.

Brigade members and the relatives of missing persons have requested that the Attorney General’s office and police join the search, as well as a team of independent experts.

The search team says Veracruz is just the first destination in their mission, which they say will take them throughout the country.

It began working in Amatlán de los Reyes in Veracruz on April 11.

Source: e-Consulta (sp), Reforma (sp)
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