Mexico’s drug war leaves 39,000 unidentified bodies in its morgues

Latin America World

 Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat  TY Gus  Source and eldiario

Investigation by Quinto Elemento
Labs finds alarming number of people buried in common graves

Mexico’s militarised crackdown on
organised crime has left nearly 39,000 unidentified bodies in the country’s
morgues, which are often unable to handle the volume of corpses brought in for
autopsies.

A new investigation by the
investigative NGO Quinto Elemento Labs found that an alarming number of people
were simply buried in common graves without proper postmortems. Some were left
in funeral homes and more than 2,500 bodies were given to medical schools.

“It’s possible that [medical]
students are learning with bodies of persons being searched for by their
families,” said an article accompanying the report, published on Tuesday. “The
forensic crisis has transformed the Mexican state into a burying machine:
27,271 unidentified bodies went from the morgue to common graves – 70% of the
total.”

Mexico’s militarised war on drugs
has claimed nearly 300,000 lives over the past 14 years. Another 73,000 persons
have gone missing – with their families often left to search for their loved
ones unassisted by the authorities.

The investigation found that the
number of unidentified corpses in Mexican morgues was 178 in 2006 – the year
president Felipe Calderón first deployed the country’s armed forces against
drug cartels.

That figure soared by 1,032% over
the next 13 years to 38,891, as the murder rate mushroomed.

Mexican morgues have routinely
run out of space to store unidentified bodies, prompting some local authorities
to seek makeshift solutions such as storing bodies in refrigerated trailers. In
2018, a scandal erupted in Guadalajara when the stench of decomposition led to
the discovery of a trailer containing 273 corpses which had been parked in a
suburban neighbourhood.

Stories have also surfaced of
workers and neighbours protesting against horrible stenches coming from
overcrowded morgues in cities such as Tijuana on the US border and Chilpancingo
in the heroin-producing heartland of Guerrero state.

The number of unidentified bodies
in Mexican morgues has continued to accelerate, even as the current government
of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised to take action. An additional 4,905
were brought to Mexican morgues in 2019, according to the report.

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