Mexico finds 13 more bodies, 2 new mass graves
April 08, 2011 10:24 AM
The Associated Press
MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) — Mexican investigators have uncovered 13 more
bodies in mass graves in the violent northern state of Tamaulipas,
where 59 dead were exhumed earlier this week, officials said Friday.
Seventy-two bodies have now been discovered since authorities began
chasing reports that gunmen had kidnapped people off of passenger
buses headed toward the U.S. border.
Nine of the bodies were discovered in one newly found grave and four
in another on Thursday in the area around the city of San Fernando,
state Interior Secretary Morelos Canseco said Friday. The total now
matches the number of migrants who died in a massacre near that town
Canseco said investigators are searching for more graves in the area,
while loved ones stream to the morgue in the border city of Matamoros
across from Brownsville, Texas, looking for loved ones not seen for a
couple of weeks, others a few months — some as long as three years.
Federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire announced Thursday that a
total of 14 suspects linked to the killings had been arrested between
Friday and Wednesday. Those arrests apparently led authorities to the
Poire said the suspects belonged to a "criminal cell," but did not
specify which gang or cartel they may have belonged to.
State authorities said they started receiving reports in late March
that gunmen were pulling men off buses on the stretch of road that
runs through the municipality of San Fernando. They are still not
sure about the origin of the victims found in the pits, but suspect
at least some had been abducted from buses.
One man waiting Thursday outside the morgue in this border city — who
refused to give his name for fear of reprisals — said his uncle and a
cousin left their hometown of Ciudad Valles in the central state of
San Luis Potosi on March 25. They were traveling by bus to Rio Bravo
in Tamaulipas state but haven't been heard from.
He said they were supposed to arrive in Rio Bravo on March 26 for a
two-week job watering sorghum fields.
"They never made it," he said, adding that he was afraid to say
anything else. "Here one is afraid to talk, here we don't talk about
what happens, but we are desperate to know what happened to them."
Most of those gathering outside the morgue were desperate for a shred
of evidence — even for confirmation of their worst fears.
"I just want to know if he is dead or alive so I can have peace,"
said Flor Medellin, her eyes watery as she waited with her husband.
Medellin said her 43-year-old brother last checked in with family
last September while hauling cattle in neighboring Nuevo Leon state,
like Tamaulipas a border state plagued with drug gang violence.
"They never found the cattle or the trailer truck. They found no
traces of him," Medellin, a 41-year-old laundry manager, said.
"It's really sad what we're going through," she added.
Medellin said her brother often drove on a dangerous highway in
Tamaulipas connecting Matamoros to the state capital, Ciudad
Victoria. It goes through San Fernando, where the clandestine graves
were found at a spot about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of
"We think he was intercepted and that they stole everything from him
and we don't know what happened after that. One always has hope that
he is alive, but all we want is to know what happened to him," said
Medellin's husband, Felipe Valadez.
The grisly discovery this week came in virtually the same spot where
72 migrants were murdered last August in a massacre that authorities
blamed on the Zetas drug cartel. Two survivors told investigators
that the migrants, from other Latin American countries who were
trying to reach the U.S., were shot because they refused to work for
By Thursday, investigators had identified a few victims of the latest
killings as Mexicans, not transnational migrants. They did not say if
they were connected to 12 official missing-person reports from the
Authorities interviewing witnesses on the bus abductions calculated
that from 65 to 82 people went missing, Tamaulipas state Interior
Secretary Morelos Canseco said.
Although federal authorities launched an offensive in the region in
November seeking to regain control of territory from the warring Gulf
and Zetas cartels, criminals have become so brazen they apparently
kidnapped the bus passengers in a stretch of open desert that locals
say lay between two military checkpoints. Mexico's military would not
comment on the location of roadblocks for security reasons.
Authorities speculate the men pulled off the buses fell victim to
ever more brutal recruiting efforts to replenish cartel ranks. But
one local politician, who didn't want to be quoted by name for safety
reasons, said there were rumors that the Gulf cartel was sending
buses of people to fight the Zetas, who control that stretch of road
and who began boarding buses in search of their rivals.
Whether the victims found in the pits were innocents caught up in the
violence, migrants or drug traffickers executed by rivals, there are
many more missing in San Fernando, the politician said. "If they keep
looking they'll find more and more mass graves," he said.