Family members of missing persons and other volunteers have begun searching a Tijuana property where more than 50 bodies could be buried.
According to a report in the newspaper El Universal, a 21-year-old woman received a phone call last Wednesday from an unidentified man who told her that her missing brother was buried in the 10 de Mayo neighborhood of the Baja California border city.
The woman, who asked to be identified only as Lucía, was told that her 18-year-old brother, Cristian – missing since October 31 – was in a grave amid thick vegetation inhabited by pigs and strewn with rubbish. The site is near Arroyo Alamar, a tributary of the Tijuana river.
With members of groups made up of relatives of missing persons, Lucía set out to find her brother on Saturday. After a three-hour search, the collective found two decomposed bodies, one of whom was Cristian.
“. . . As soon as I saw the body, I recognized him,” Lucía said.
Angélica Ramírez, a member of a group that participated in the search, said that one of the bodies was found in the open air while the other was in a shallow grave.
After the discoveries, Lucía told El Universal that she received a second call from an anonymous man who said: “Keep searching because there, in the same place, there are another 50 bodies.”
A contingent of about 20 people returned to the site on Sunday accompanied by state police but no further bodies were found.
According to Ramírez, it was the first time that authorities showed an interest in assisting in the search for their loved ones.
“The search brigade hasn’t had a good response from the authorities. Petitions have been submitted, we’ve spoken to the missing persons prosecutor and we hadn’t had a response until today [Sunday]. It’s very regrettable that we have to reach this point . . . for the authorities to start to take notice,” she said.
For his part, Baja California investigation agency chief Alejandro Corona Zamora said the property hadn’t been searched previously because state authorities hadn’t received any information to suggest that bodies were buried there.
There are more than 40,000 missing persons in Mexico, according to official statistics, and the discovery of hidden graves is a common occurrence.
Presenting a 400-million-peso plan to fund search efforts for missing persons in February, human rights undersecretary Alejandro Encinas described Mexico as an “enormous hidden grave.”