MEXICO CITY (AP) – Searchers have found 27 corpses in clandestine graves in the Mexican border city of Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas, and many of them were hacked to pieces, volunteer searchers said Wednesday.
Some of the corpses were buried so recently that bits of skin with tattoos remained, and that has allowed relatives to identify four of the bodies, searchers said. But many were hacked into a half-dozen pieces.
Edith González, leader of the search group “For the Love of the Disappeared,” said the clandestine burial site was located relatively close to the center of Reynosa. The spot is only about 4 miles from the border.
González said some of the 16 burial pits contained two or three bodies, and that the clandestine burial site may have been used by gangs as recently as a month or two ago. Some were covered by only 1 1/2 feet of earth.
The prosecutor’s office in the border state of Tamaulipas confirmed the find.
Drug and kidnapping gangs use such sites to dispose of the bodies of their victims.
The search group said an anonymous tip led searchers to the burials at a lot near an irrigation canal late last week.
“People are starting to shake off their fear and have begun reporting” the body dumping grounds, González said. She acknowledged that some tips may come from “people who worked there (for the gangs) and are no longer in that line of work.”
Such tips have proved a double-edged sword for search groups, which are usually made up of mothers or relatives of Mexico’s over 110,000 missing people.
Earlier this month, authorities said a drug cartel bomb attack used a fake report of a mass grave to lure police into a trap that killed four police officers and two civilians in Jalisco state, to the south. Authorities there temporarily suspended police involvement in searches based on anonymous tips as a safety measure.
The anonymous caller had given a volunteer searcher a tip about a supposed clandestine burial site near a roadway in Tlajomulco, Jalisco. The cartel buried improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, on the road and then detonated them as a police convoy passed. The IEDS were so powerful they destroyed four vehicles, injured 14 people and lefts craters in the road.