Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Sunday, September 27, 2020

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

 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.


  1. But Almo says theres no drug war and there is only peace, no kidnappings or balaceras....Amlo should be tried in a military tribune for not doing a damn thing about the violence in his country. He is the worst president Mexico has ever had and that is saying alot. He lets the narcos do as they please...what a genius strategy Mr. Presidente you absolute fool.

    1. He is busy, trying to find out who killed the 43 students, also he is busy wanting expresidents our in jail, priorities are not where they supposed to be.

  2. I got a log written for every single one of those. Logged in Ledger. Apoco meh olvido de nomas uno. Nope

  3. Great stuff Chivis! This has been a problem for decades. We as investigators used to go into the SEMEFO Website in the 2004-2008 where we could view photos and descriptors of unidentified dead bodies. It helped to confirm murders and to identify missing persons. Since 2008, the system backed up so much, it collapsed.

    Cristina Palacios was the mother of Alejandro Hodoyan-Palacios, who was arrested and turned (tortured into) becoming an informant by General Rebollo. “Franky Flowers” portrayed Hodoyan in the movie “Traffic” and “General Salazar” portrayed Rebollo. When Rebollo was through with Hodoyan, he gave him to us. Our AUSA wanted him to testify against his brother, Alfredo, for his involvement in the murder of drug-fighter Ernesto Ibarra-Santes in September of 1996. He fled our safehouse, returned to Tijuana and recanted all his statements made to Rebolla through his attorney.

    In our interviews with witnesses, we learned that Hodoyan was picked up by armed men in a white van outside his Tijuana home and taken to Ismael Higuera-Guerrero, the operator for the Arellano-Felix Organization. Higuera tortured and recorded the beating death of Hodollan, then had his men dissolve him in acid.

    Cristina Palacios who was the president of an anti-impunity group in Tijuana, was always searching for her disappeared son. About 15 years after his murder, we received concrete information and invited Cristina to meet with us to give her some closure.

    1. Mr. Duncan, why would Benjamin Arellano Felix sanction the brutal death of Alex Hodoyan? Becuase he debriefed? He didnt have a choice Gen. Rebollo was under Juarez cartel payroll. I feel terrible for Cristina, the Hodoyan brother's mother, to have both of her well off raised son's become part of the Tijuana cartel. One in prison and another one dead.

    2. Dear Steve, what i am hungering for is your report on Julian Leyzaola who i am convinced is worse than the CAFETERA, and El Rambo de Tijuana, jesus alberto capella who went to Morelos State and is now the ruling queen in Cancun as SSP of the State of Quintana Roo, i hope you did not lost interest on those "crime fighters"

  4. Man I really feel for the Good folk in Mexico
    300.000 dead 73.00 missing 1 million illegaly in USA
    come on Mexico Fight back for your country and freedom

    Think how rich you will be and never be in Gangs or Cartels pockets
    all the waste of gov money can go your salerys and make Mexico one GREAT PLACE
    Get the Evil out No more
    Dont flee

  5. Identified dead bodies tell a story and that is allot of stories and dots connected, it's all intentional.
    The US has been piping Mexico with allot of money lately, and you think Mexico can't solve this problem, of course it can bit the government is corrupt and complicit.

  6. But how can 39,000 bodies be dead, when ALMO says no homicides in Mexico.
    Who is controlling him, who the hell is his speech writer. He can't fool us.

  7. Cadaver searchers need help,
    but somebody is playing possum...
    LIDAR is famous for locating hidden clandestine graves since used in Mew Mexico where they found about a dozen of those graves after finding 2 or 3 of them by accident, the US could have volunteered a while ago, (in Colombia too) but i don't think they want to find out even worse results of their Wars on Drugs, special li y those derived from their sponsored regimes and armies of troglodytes headed by Zedillo, fox, EPN, FECAL and Alvaro Uribe Velez

  8. Let's be clear on one thing; it is not only the War on Drugs (whether it is fought by Mx itself or under supervision of US policies and politics) that are to blame for those tens of thousands of deaths, even when it DOES account for half of it, mostly indirectly. It ALSO is the violent mob-like organisations that kidnap, extort, torture and murder, that often they to go by the guise of cartels and of which the psychopath operators and employees simply are so degenerated and devoid of human feelings, they think they LIKE to do that type of thing to other human beings (their peers, basically). AND actually weggaf overlaps is that the officials and most of all corrupt, but also underpaid and scared cops that find thatey run without cover facing these hard criminals, are responsible for half of these cases HAPPENING.


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