Mexican authorities unearthed five recently buried bodies from a clandestine grave in the rural pueblo of Mochicahui, El Fuerte municipality, Sinaloa state, officials announced July 21 — the latest in a long string of such gruesome finds that the press in Mexico has dubbed narco-fosas, or narco-graves. Sinaloa state prosecutors were tipped off by a local resident whose family member was among the disappeared. Peasants in the region are terrorized by the Sinaloa Cartel, which makes a grisly example of those unwilling to cooperate in its drug-running operations.
In late June, a much bigger narco-fosa was discovered in the municipality of Cosamaloapan, Veracruz state — with 31 cadavers unearthed. The corpses were displayed by authorities in a stadium in the state capital, Xalapa, where people whose loved ones had recently disappeared from across Veracruz could attempt to identify them. The corpses were said to be about six months old. Before the story dropped from the headlines in Mexico, eight of them had been identified. Veracruz is the scene of a bloody turf war between the Gulf Cartel and its rogue paramilitary offshoot, the Zetas.
The narco gangs notoriously prey on migrants passing through their turf, with a series of massacres carried out in Tamaulipas state — the Zetas’ heartland, just across the Rio Grande from South Texas. The massacred migrants had presumably refused to serve as “mules” for the Zetas, and the massacres that actually came to light may represent only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. On July 20, Mexico’s Institute of Forensic Sciences (INCIFO) announced that it had completed the identification of 11 bodies unearthed in 2011 from a narco-fosa in San Fernando, Tamaulipas. The victims were found to be migrants from Honduras, and the remains were turned over to Honduran diplomats for return to their communities in the Central American country. A team of forensic anthropologists from Argentina, with experience investigating that country’s “dirty war,” assisted in the San Fernando investigation.