Justice in Mexico · Transparency & accountability

Close to 200 Bodies Found in Mass Graves in Tamaulipas

11 of the 17 detainees arrested for their alleged role in the mass graves discovered in Tamaulipas over the weekend (Photo Credit: Milenio)

04/11/11— 127 bodies have been found in the area of San Fernando in the state of Tamaulipas, where 10 massive graves were discovered, with the largest one having over 40 bodies. San Fernando is about 100 miles south of the border and neighbors Brownsville, Texas. Initially 72 bodies were found last Wednesday, but 16 more bodies were found over the weekend, bringing the total up to 88. On Tuesday, April 12th, authorities uncovered more bodies, bringing the official total up to 127 bodies in total. On Tuesday, April 26th, Attorney General Marisela Morales stated that the body count has risen to 183.

The Attorney General Office stated that the organized crime group, Los Zetas, are allegedly responsible for the mass graves. A prosecution source has revealed that messages were found on site that were allegedly written by members of Los Zetas and the Beltran Levya cartel.

Investigators suspect that bodies from migrants seized from a bus between March 24th and 29th in Tamaulipas are in the graves, but are still working to identify the bodies. The seizure of the passengers on buses led to the disappearance of numerous migrants, including one American. The U.S. Consulate in Mexico has stated that from late March to early April there were three reports from Americans or their families regarding inner-city buses being boarded by criminals. As a result, several bus companies operating in Tamaulipas have cancelled their routes until the authorities can guarantee safety to them and their passengers.

The state prosecutor’s office revealed that 17 people were arrested at the San Fernando scene, including five hostages. Nine of them were arrested in early April for possession of arms and military uniforms. Five others were arrested on Wednesday when they were driving a truck painted as though it was a military vehicle. Of the 17 arrested, César Armando Morales Uscanga has admitted to killing and burying 43 of the bodies in the mass graves. Authorities say that Uscanga gave information that led to the discovery of 4 other graves in Tamaulipas over the weekend.

This is not the first time that authorities have uncovered mass amounts of bodies allegedly linked to drug related crime. In August 2010, officials in San Fernando found the remains of 72 people, later identified as mostly Central American migrants, who were brutally killed by organized crime groups.

The Guatemalan government reported on April 12th that one of the first bodies to be extracted from the graves was identified as Feliciano Tagual Ovalle, a 44 year old Guatemalan male. Mexican authorities believe that most of the bodies in the graves are Mexicans, but all bodies have yet to be identified.

*Updated on 04/26/11 to include the updated amount of bodies found in the mass graves.


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