A Dante-esque scene was unearthed in Mexico, where a section of the Coahuila desert concealed a gigantic underground mass grave. Over an area of 56,000 square meters, authorities have identified 4,600 bone fragments and other objects. According to the investigators, it could be a mass grave site for the powerful cartel Los Zetas.
The area was discovered thanks to the work of Grupo VIDA, which is dedicated to searching for disappeared people by rebuilding the testimonies of locals and witnesses.
The dramatic reality of the clandestine graves emerged during the search of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, who disappeared in Iguala after being attacked by police and drug traffickers between Sept. 26 and 27, 2014. That’s when the world realized how much torture and violations human rights have become common practice in military barracks and in police stations, and how little the country values the lives of the rural poor, caught between economic misery and drug gangs embedded in a violent and unequal political system.
Yet grassroots organizations continue to search for the 43 missing kids. Based on the strong support of a massive alternative counter-inquiry that highlighted the lies and false leads, the groups succeeded in persuading the government to reopen the investigation. Meanwhile, thanks to the activities of organizations like Grupo VIDA, many victims of trafficking or gangs have been identified, from the borders with the United States to the rest of the country.
At the end of 2015, the number of missing people stood at 27,887. This new, macabre discovery could raise the numbers significantly.
According to experts, the 4,600 remains belong to people who have been missing since 2004, killed between 2007 and 2012 by the Zeta cartel. According to testimonies, during those years armed men were seen arriving to the area in vans, to unload and burn the bodies. Residents also say that other bodies were “dissolved” in big containers, and the screams of the condemned could be heard throughout the neighborhood.
The families of the victims have denounced the failure of the Coahuila authorities, who have downplayed the incident. Many members of Los Zetas are from the Army Special Forces.