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“Veracruz is the world’s largest grave”: Mexican official declares after latest clandestine narco burial site is discovered

March 16, 2017  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
“Veracruz is the world’s largest grave”: Mexican official declares after latest clandestine narco burial site is discovered

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The Mexican state of Veracruz is the world’s largest grave.

The statement was made by Jorge Winckler, the Attorney General of Veracruz, following the latest discovery of a clandestine mass grave in the Gulf state.

A somber reminder of a national tragedy that has taken hold in Mexico. As thousands of families of missing kidnapped victims of the criminal drug cartels continue to hold out hope of one day finding their loved ones.

So far, 250 skulls have been unearthed in the past several months from the cartel mass burial ground located on the outskirts of the city of Veracruz.

During a recent interview with Televisa, Winkler argued that for many years, organized crime with the help of complicit state officials were the route cause for the “disappeared people,” the term used to described those who have been kidnapped by drug cartels and were never heard from again.

Authorities continue to search the site of a clandestine mass grave where 250 skulls have so far been unearthed in Veracruz, Mexico

The official indicated that the remains found in the clandestine narco pits were those of victims killed by drug cartels in previous years.

Veracruz is “one big mass grave,” Winckler proclaimed.

“For many years, the drug cartels disappeared people, and the authorities were complacent,” Winckler said. “During the government of (Javier) Duarte, state officials had purposely deceived the families of the disappeared about which DNA samples were taken,” the state prosecutor said.

He also acknowledged that hundreds of families face difficulties in claiming the bodies of their relatives from the state’s forensics service to identify victims since there are only 276 DNA samples out of the thousands of victims the government should have had since the previous administration.

Members of the search teams lift the bodies of the disappeared in Veracruz. Photo: Proceso

Winkler accused corrupt Veracruz officials who worked under previous Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte Ochoa of not only looting public funds but also of robbing the state of sufficient expert services to help identify and locate the victims.

Duarte, who resigned in 2016 before his term ended, remains a fugitive after the Mexican Attorney General’s Office issued an arrest warrant on embezzlement charges.

“There is no way for the identification of bodies through the DNA confrontation because there are no reagents because all that money was looted and diverted.”

Nevertheless, he assured that in the first hundred days of the administration of new Veracruz Governor Miguel Angel Yunes, authorities have been able to identify a large number of victims and have recovered close to 100 people reported missing thanks to the Mexican Attorney and International Red Cross.

The killing fields were uncovered thanks to the persistence of activists and “mothers of disappeared” called Colectivo Sollecito, who pushed authorities to investigate the killing fields where the skulls were found after suspecting over a year ago that the wooded area known as Colinas de Santa Fe was a cartel grave site.

In this March 8, 2017 photo, members of the Solecito search group carry the coffin of a police detective who disappeared in 2013 (AP Photo/Felix Marquez)

Faced with the inaction of a non-cooperative state government, activists themselves began investigating the killing fields, according to The Associated Press

Starting in August 2016, activist groups inserted rods into the ground to detect the revealing odor of decomposition and then commenced the delicate process of digging around the area.

Even before the digging began, search teams had discovered some remains of victims.

The search teams alerted authorities when they suspected they had uncovered burial pits. State and federal police carried out the final excavations.

“We dig holes, but we try not to touch the remains,” said Lucia Diaz, a member of Colectivo Solecito, whose son Guillermo Lagunes Diaz was kidnapped from his home in 2013 and was never heard from again.

The Mothers of the ‘Disappeared” took the initiative and began searching the area after suspecting it was a cartel cemetery

“DNA may be the only hope of identifying the dead and touching the bones might contaminate them” Diaz explained,

Thus far, 125 grave pits have been discovered containing 253 victims.

However, Winkler said despite the progress the state authorities have made, over 2,400 officials cases of people still missing.

“I cannot imagine how many more people are illegally buried there,” Winckler said.

“Veracruz is an enormous mass grave,” he said.

Although Winkler attempted to defer responsibility to previous administrations, Diaz maintained some were quite recent and blamed both past and present governors for the inaction in preventing the atrocities.

“Some of the bodies had a lot of connective tissue. You could see an ear, or recognize part of a face,” she said.

Special investigators guard bodies found in mass graves in a wooded area known as Colinas de Santa Fe on the outskirts of Veracruz, Mexico.

Diaz added that it is impossible to determine how many people are buried, and isn’t sure if the burial ground wasn’t used recently.

“We don’t know when it stopped, or if it stopped.” She also said that searchers found eight bodies just ten days ago.

For years, Veracruz had been dominated by the ultra-violent Zetas cartel. However, in 2011, the equally ruthless Jalisco New Generation cartel began moving into the state, sparking horrific turf wars.

Authorities say Veracruz now has nine criminal cartels operating the state.

Public displays also remain in abundance in Veracruz. Just last week, police discovered the mutilated remains of 11 people in an abandoned area in the city of Boca del Rio.

As for Diaz, she along with other mothers of Colectivo Sollecito have yet to be flagged in the search for their loved ones.

“We mothers say they are still alive until we find out otherwise,” Diaz said. But she firmly believes that corrupt police had involvement in the disappearances.

Several groups of state police officers and officials have been arrested for kidnapping people and handing them over to the criminal cartels.

“It is either the criminals, or police, or both that dumped the bodies in Colinas de Santa Fe,” she said. “In Veracruz, it’s kind of hard to tell the difference.”

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