Mexican mothers searching for missing loved ones have discovered a total of 28 secret gravesites in an area in southeast Mexico.
The women, who have banded together in a group they call El Solecito, have launched their own search for missing loved ones after despairing of authorities.
The area, north of the port of Veracruz, “is a great cemetery of crime” that is used “like a camp to kill people who have been kidnapped,” Lucia de los Angeles Diaz Genao, one of the mothers, told journalists on Saturday.
She said she finds it hard to believe that “these things happened in Veracruz without the complicity of authorities.”
The discovered remains, apparently those of 40 people, have been exhumed and delivered to forensic police.
“We hope to be able to know these victims’ identities in about three months,” Diaz Genao said.
The mothers say they will continue their search as they have so far covered a small land plot of about 10 hectares (25 acres).
Veracruz is the scene of a deadly turf struggle between two violent drug cartels, namely the Zetas and the Jalisco Nueva Generacion.
Both gangs seek to monopolize drug trafficking routes to the United States, and often kidnap and extort locals as well as immigrants from Central America. Both criminal groups have buried their victims for years in clandestine graves, which have proliferated recently.
Since December 2006, when the Mexican government launched a militarized effort against drug trafficking, a surge in violence has claimed the lives of more than 166,000 people, with more than 27,000 reported disappearances, according to official figures.
In one of the most high-profile cases, 43 Mexican students disappeared on September 26, 2014, after they participated in a protest in the southwestern city of Iguala, in Guerrero State.
Some two and a half years into their disappearance, their parents continue a desperate search to find out the fate of their children.