Sinaloa’s Unflattering Statistics: Unidentified Bodies and Disappearing People

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           Sinaloa, the leader in clandestine graves and finding remains of disappeared persons

In the first semester of 2019, Sinaloa already heads one of the less flattering rankings: The one of bodies found in clandestine graves.

Data from the National Search Commission, establish that the state has the largest number of clandestine burial sites registered, as well as the largest number of bodies exhumed from them.

That Registry has a group of responsible people; the Searchers:
In the state there are 13 groups organized to search for missing persons, who make reports on searches in different ways every day: in jails, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric care centers, hospitals, the Forensic Medical Service Unit in Culiacán, funeral homes, tracing of land and in clandestine graves.

The voluntary Searcher groups, made up of mostly women, looking for their own family members

Novolato, Sinaloa:  At least 20 buried bodies have been located in  four days in clandestine graves discovered in Navolato, Mazatlán and Los Mochis, by groups of relatives of disappeared persons.  

The findings began on Wednesday and Thursday in Mazatlan, when another group of relatives located a pit where they found 13 bodies;  while on Thursday and Friday in Los Mochis, the Las Rastreadoras collective located another five bodies.  On Friday and Saturday, in Navolato, the collective  Guerreras located the remains of two people who were buried in a lot located on the outskirts of Culiacán and Navolato.  

The investigations carried out by these women in search of their relatives took them to a farm located in the vicinity of the Ejido El Pinole, in Culiacancito, and La Platanera, in Navolato. Until now there are two bodies that have been located, but they suspect that there may be more bodies, so the search continues supported by a backhoe.  

Experts from the State Attorney General’s Office were transferred to the place to start the investigations. The remains will be taken to the Forensic Medical Service pending their identification.

On this last item, there is a pattern that was already identified by the National Search Brigade.

“We who come from the south find it very strange to see so many machines working … because we know that in Sinaloa there are machines for farmers, to open channels, to make berms, but we have also found along the way that with machines they are burying people ” Said Mario Vergara, member of the Brigade.
In Sinaloa, backhoe loaders are used to bury people in clandestine graves, and groups have understood that in order to identify them, they must locate other patterns.

For example, the fields where there is a search and there is suspicion of missing persons, there will be devastation of the surrounding flora and that the earth will be disturbed with bulges, which could reveal that they were made with excess earth. Most bodies in Sinaloa have been found that way.

The last discovery of bodies in clandestine graves was in Mezquitillo, a village in Eldorado, south of Culiacán.

After two days of tracking, the group of relatives of missing persons “Guerreras” located three skulls, in addition to skeletal remains in an estuary of that locality.

The remains were found in an area of ​​150 meters, where there were also remains that were presumed to be the backbone of one of the three skulls found by the group.

The skulls were on the surface, because that area was worked by backhoe loaders, with which the brush was removed and the earth was removed.

The group said that the remains could be scattered by the work being done in that place, and that there is a possibility that there is more in the waste of the land or even buried on a new layer of earth made by the backhoe.

Mezquitillo is a town that is on the way to Eldorado, where a week before five skeletons were found by the State Search Brigade.

There could be more bodies buried, so the collective established that a search and location plan coordinated with state and federal authorities, including the National Search Commission.

New Search Method:

The project of the 13 search groups in Sinaloa is to continue tracking, and now they will do so with the exhumation of bodies in mass graves.

The Rastreadoras de El Fuerte collective , founded by Mirna Nereyda Medina Quiñónez, requested the Prosecutor General of the State and the State Government to build, at least, a forensic pantheon.
This is a special cemetery, in which people who have already been sent to mass graves must be buried, but they have not had DNA records; as well as the construction of tombs with specific characteristics to achieve a better conservation of the remains, in case these come to be identified.

The project was prepared and shared by the Research Center for Advanced Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS), which analyzed Sinaloa as a case with an important problem in mass graves.

In Culiacán alone, there is a record of more than 600 bodies that were buried without DNA testing, according to data provided by the Attorney General’s Office.

The request was made by the collective Rastreadoras de El Fuerte, and has been supported by most of the groups, but has not been approved by the state.

However, the Undersecretariat of Human Rights of the Ministry of the Interior announced to the leaders of collectives that the appeal was approved to build three forensic vaults that will be located in three zones: north, center and south.
“You have to work together with the municipal, state and federal government, but the fact that a budget is already designated for the forensic pantheons gives us as families a very great hope to find our missing persons,” said Mirna Nereyda Medina Quiñónez, leader of the group Rastreadoras de El Fuerte.

Data from the National Search Commission establish that in the country there are at least 20,000 bodies buried in mass graves without identification records, and at least 1,000 are found in 14 state pantheons.

Also that the main clandestine inhumation sites have been Sinaloa (with 37), followed by Guerrero (24), Veracruz (23), Chihuahua (22), Colima (16) and Zacatecas (16).
The Authorities Also “Erase” the Missing:
The Undersecretariat for Human Rights dared to give an imprecise report: there are 80 bodies that were found in 23 clandestine graves from December to May 13 in Sinaloa.

The State Attorney’s Office has a different count and validated by the groups of relatives of missing persons: there are not 80, but 113 bodies in clandestine graves.

The information was granted by the Attorney General’s Office, in a court that drafted from January 1 to May 17. That is, in the local figure there are 33 more bodies registered by authorities that were not counted at the federal level, with one more detail: the Undersecretariat of Human Rights said to include the month of December.

The Attorney General of Sinaloa, Juan José Ríos Estavillo, said he did not agree with the data confrontation, but that it was important to specify the number that is available locally to expand the parameters that are available.

“We are not to oppose or to assert any statement that generates antagonism, these are data that correspond to the information of the Prosecutor,” he said.

In the report of the Undersecretary of Human Rights under the Ministry of the Interior, it was indicated that the count was drawn up by the National Search Commission, in consultation with local prosecutors and groups of people with missing relatives.

In this report, Sinaloa would be placed as the second entity with the highest number of findings after Colima, in which 93 bodies were registered.

However, after the presentation, expressions of search groups were made in different states of the country, such as Chihuahua, Guerrero, Veracruz and Sinaloa.

Mirna Nereyda Medina Quiñónez, of the Rastreadoras de El Fuerte group, said that the explanation that was given at the federal level to civil organizations is that the parameters used to make the report are about unique facts.

For example, from March 6 to 12, 24 bodies were found in clandestine graves, 21 of them in Miravalle and three in Palmillas, towns located in the Municipality of Mazatlán. The findings were made in 10 clandestine graves, but the Undersecretary summed it up in three, as the number of days or events in which the clandestine graves were found.
“They call it a pit , the places where we found remains, come on, I’m going on to this year I have found  a lot of 11 pits and 16 bodies, for them it’s just a pit, then I found another lot with 13 bodies and for them is another, then they are called the official numbers, ” she said.

Medina Quiñónez indicated that it is looking to have a national meeting of collectives, in which they will request the extension of the report. The proposal is supported by other local groups, such as the “Guerreras”.

The latter added that the report should consider the count of clandestine graves in which remains of people have been found, as happened on January 3 of this year, when a 1,021 fragments were documented in La Presita, north of Culiacán.

In Mazatlan, everything is not tourism:

The foreigners are on the beaches and those at home are being buried in pits, in wells and swamps that show the horror. The earth oozes blood. The tufo reveals fury, pain and death.

In 71 days, they took out of the ground 41 people who were buried clandestinely.

The city is divided into two: the area where there are dozens of hotels, parties occur, people tan on the beach, there is a constant real estate movement and the Government of Sinaloa gloats to presume that there is no violence in Sinaloa.

Geographically it is divided with the international highway Mexico 15.

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