Mexico to search common graves for thousands of drug-war missing

MEXICO CITY, April 8 (Reuters) - Mexico authorities are looking to obtain genetic samples from unidentified bodies in cemeteries across the country to gather information on tens of thousands of people who have gone missing in the country's cartel warfare.

Due to a lack of genetic sampling on many victims, mass graves in municipal cemeteries containing bodies of victims who officials could not identify would be exhumed to help locate the missing, Karla Quintana, head of the National Search Commission (CNB), said on Thursday.

"What is being proposed... is to exhume all the bodies, remove genetic information... and with the genetic information that we already have from some families, do identification massively," Quintana said in a government news conference.

The crisis of missing people in Mexico stems from unabated violence unleashed by its more-than-decade-long drug war. It has reached a scale that rivals the Latin American civil wars in the 1980s, with more than 85,000 people considered missing, according to government data.

Cases of missing people registered so far in 2021 total 1,438.

The government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vowed to identify thousands of human remains that have accumulated in ad hoc graves and morgues. Many are suspected to be victims of cartel violence.

Human rights organizations have questioned the role of state security forces in some of the cases.

Quintana said in order for the government to make wider identifications, prosecutors would need to share information with the CNB, which she said had been done only by the northern state of Coahuila.

Quintana has said previously that a large number of missing people may be among the unidentified bodies in morgues and graves. (Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Dan Grebler)

04/08/2021 18:03

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