Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Mexicans seek mass grave victims at border morgue

Saturday, April 16, 2011 |


Police officers wearing face masks stand guard next to a truck, containing 76 bodies found in mass graves in northern Mexico, parked outside the La Piedad's Embalment building in Mexico City April 14, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez


Reuters

Bereft Mexican families stand clutching photographs of loved ones, weeping outside a morgue on the country's northern border in search of victims of the worst mass killings in Mexico's drug war.


Ricardo Martinez, 63, is one of many grief-stricken parents who have come to the city of Matamoros on the border with Texas for news of their missing children since soldiers began digging up dozens of bodies from mass graves in nearby San Fernando.

The last time Martinez spoke to his son Elvis was when the 33-year-old called from a pay phone two weeks ago to say he was getting onto a bus so he could sneak into Texas from the border state of Tamaulipas to look for work in Houston.

The next news he got was from coroners informing him his son was one of nearly 150 bodies unearthed since last week in graves that have become a stain on the name of Tamaulipas.

"The only thing my son wanted was a job so he could try to get ahead. Here in Mexico you lose your life for aspiring for something better," said Martinez as he left the coroner's office on Saturday with his weeping daughter.

Camped out in Matamoros, the Martinez family is one of a growing number who suspect their relatives were among those hauled off buses by hitmen and murdered by the feared Zetas cartel that the government has blamed for the atrocities.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon is struggling to avert a collapse of law and order in Tamaulipas, home to natural gas fields near the Gulf of Mexico, as the Zetas fight the powerful Gulf cartel for smuggling routes and extend their control over large areas, infiltrating police and local governments.

The state is a magnet for migrants planning to cross into the United States illegally or those who seek work in thousands of factories on the Mexican side of the border.



The roads of Tamaulipas are a major thoroughfare for buses that gangs are now hijacking, kidnapping passengers for ransom and forcing some to join the gangs.

"Given what's happening, we'd rather add hours to our journey times than go through San Fernando," said Juan Armando Gonzalez, who runs an office for the Omnibus chain.

Inhabitants of Tamaulipas like 47-year-old Jose Tovar say the bodies found so far are just the tip of the iceberg.

"I don't think we're looking at 146 or 200 dead, I reckon there are over a thousand buried in hidden graves," he said.

BLOW TO CALDERON

The slayings in Tamaulipas are a bitter blow to the government's efforts to reassure Washington and the rest of the world that it is winning the war against the cartels that Calderon launched on taking office in December 2006.

"It's bad news for Mexico and for foreign investors," said Jose Luis Pineyro, a security expert at Mexico's Autonomous Metropolitan University. "Calderon is trying to sell the message that Mexico is a safe and peaceful place."

Armed with grenade launchers and automatic weapons, both the Gulf cartel and the Zetas have orchestrated mass jail breaks and driven police from rural towns, while the latter are openly stealing gasoline from state-run pipelines in the area.

More than 37,000 people have died in the violence over the past four years, hurting the hopes of Calderon's conservatives of retaining the presidency in elections next year. The killings have also raised tensions with the United States, Mexico's co-sponsor in the drug war and its top trade partner.

The two countries have accused each other of hindering progress, straining diplomatic relations to the point where the U.S. ambassador to Mexico resigned last month.

CORPSES ARRIVING DAILY

Calderon has pledged to bring the killers behind the mass graves to justice. At least 17 suspects have been arrested so far in connection with the murders. They include the Zetas' local boss Martin "El Kilo" Estrada who the Mexican navy said was nabbed on Saturday by marines.

The military said Estrada was was behind the murders of 72 immigrants found at a Tamaulipas ranch in August.

The massacres are undermining the president's claims that most drug war victims are criminals.

"When all these missing people start turning up, it's just not credible to say they're all criminals. There's no question that a sizable part of them are kidnapped migrants and kidnapped Mexicans," said Pineyro.

In Matamoros, corpses arrive almost daily from the San Fernando graves. Martinez was awaiting the results of a DNA test after giving forensic workers a lock of his hair. Coroners will not release the body until the results are in.

His son, a truck driver who hoped to find work in construction or landscaping, had paid a migrant smuggler to get him across the border lying just beyond the city morgue.

"We're not leaving," Martinez said, "until they give us my son's body."





Share it:

5 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

Que poca madre. Who placed those bodies in the pick up truck? That's just fuckin disrespectful to the police and their families.

We really have an embarrassing situation going on in Mexico. After all the finger-pointing it all comes back to bad-old mexico. How, one asks oneself, does it get to this level? What kind of people allow for this to happen in 20 fucking 11? I can't believe people can be convinced to commit the worst haneous acts against each other and innocents as well in this fuckin day in age.

I shake my motherfuckin head at the atrocities the Japanese soldiers committed on their enemies in WWII. I can't believe I am of the same species as the Russian government troops that killed millions of its own Christians or of the Chinese government soldiers who slaughtered its people as well.

But this? How long, how far will it go? Until we hit a million? Past a million dead? I have seen complacent people all over the world; people that refuse to stand up against their agressors, people that have no idea that they can bring change, but in mexico the people have experienced revolution. Why not rise up like the people in the middle east are doing?They did it once, they can do it again.

Why can't the people sorround their leaders and demand change by force? What the hell is keeping them?

This is just sick. It's a sick country full of sick people. I sometimes think to myself that all this is a horrible dream or that it's all part of my very own imagination. Why do these things occur during my own existence? Is this something I could have avoided if I had been a better person?..but no, this is all too real for anybody to comprehend.

We all feel the gross negligence of the mexican government, shit our very own u.s. government as well, but like somebody posted earlier, the government is a reflection of the people's will, if not theirs then whos? Yes it's easy to say the bankers are all behind this, the military industrial complex, the NWO, but hell, if nobody rises up then what the fuck are we doing to our very own future and that of our children?

Anonymous said...

Texcoco Mex said.

Anon 10:38 PM

It is more complicated then that, we can point fingers all we want but it will not change the situation. A lot of people don't vote when they have to, the vote it is need it to create new laws or to change laws. Also we all need to pay taxes I know a lot of people that don't do it and taxes are need it for many things we demand from the government. We also have to stop paying bribes, if we want an honest government we also have to be honest and play by the rules. My education is low only 9 years of schooling and I learn English all by myself I don't know about laws or politics but in humble opinion I think this will be a good way to start. If our government is weak is because we are weak in our responsibilities as Mexicans.

Anonymous said...

Massive corruption is hard to imagine,BUT it is a way of life in almost all branches of Mexican Govt and in the public as well.Mexicans do not know anything different. TRY doing business in Mexico,nothing criminal,just any commerce at all, and you will be faced with permits,licenses,fees,inspections,quotas,taxes,Mexican partners required,-- with bribes all the way. Mexican Motto its OK to screw the Gringo,now they are screwing themselves,Fancy that.

Anonymous said...

Texcoco Mex said.

In respond to Anon 8:18 PM.

Ha ha ha my friend please I guess you don't know about the U.S contractors who were over charging the U.S billions of dollars for fake services in Iraq. The U.S was paying 50 dollars for a six pack of Coca Cola and 90 dollars for a bag of laundry they will lease a car in the U.S for use in Iraq for $80,000 when they can buy it for 30,000 to 40,000. Yes it was a Gringo screwing a Gringo.
And also did you know what the CIA motto was? It goes like this NO CIA AGENT CAN EVER BE CONVICTED OF ANY CRIME. Did you know there is more than 100 billion dollars unaccounted for in Iraq, Fancy that. Not every one is blind like you might think. We have a lot of problems but the U.S 14 trillion dollar debt is a bigger problem than the one we have. Fancy fancy fancy.

Anonymous said...

100 billions of dollars unaccounted for and big debt vs 100's and thousands of people being killed and tortured and all government corrupted and you let your murder's go free.
Ummmm

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;

borderlandbeat@gmail.com