Mass grave near Mexico City may hold bodies of kidnapping victims

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 August, 2013, 4:31am


Authorities searched a mass grave near Mexico City as relatives braced to learn whether the remains were those of 12 young people kidnapped in May.

Mexico City's top prosecutor, Rodolfo Rios, said the decomposed bodies of seven people had been recovered since the search began in a park on Wednesday. Workers were still digging the muddied pit.

Rios said it would take at least two days to get DNA test results, adding more suspense to a case that has shocked the capital.

The kidnapped group, aged 16 to 34, were taken from a central bar in broad daylight on a Sunday morning three months ago in a case that challenged the perception that Mexico City was relatively immune from the country's drug cartel violence.

The mass grave was discovered at the Rancho La Mesa ecological park in the municipality of Tlalmanalco, a mountainous area of pine trees, cornfields and humble rural homes 30 kilometres southeast of the capital.

A federal police officer at the scene said that authorities had searched a ranch for weapons on Wednesday and found firearms in a parked trailer when they happened to find a stretch of land covered in cement.

"We began to dig and found the bodies," he said.

One kilometre from the grave, police blocked access on a dirt road surrounded by cornfields. Some relatives gathered there, while in the capital, others demanded answers from Rios.

"The excavation continues to check if there are more bodies," he said.

The aunt of 16-year-old Jerzy Ortiz, Eugenia Ponce Ramos, later said that the families were "distressed due to the uncertainty".

A lawyer representing some victims' relatives, Ricardo Martinez, said that a police officer who was at the site told him that 13 bodies had been found.

"According to the people who spoke with me … I wouldn't doubt that it is them," Martinez said.