Since 2006 between 28,000 and 45,000 people have been disappeared in Mexico. Called “Desaparicidos,” they are people who have been caught in the crossfire in Mexico’s war between organized crime, most notably the drug cartels, the police and the military. They have been abducted and murdered by persons unknown, but probably by the police or the cartels using weapons that most often originate from the United States. Oftentimes their bodies are dumped into mass graves. Sometimes when a family member asks too many questions other family members become desaparicido as a warning.
Recently families have begun coming together in informal groups to search for their loved ones. They have learned to identify the signs of mass graves. Within the past few months a mass grave with 106 bodies was discovered in Morelos State. Families have begun the long process of carefully exhuming the remains and trying to identify the bodies. Not trusting the state forensic anthropologist they have hired their own. So far they have identified two of the remains. Since Mexico does not have a functioning DNA data base to identify the disappeared people the families must identify the bodies by the clothing or shoes that the person is wearing. Sometimes the local and state governments delay giving permission for the families to dig for the remains. On at least one occasion the mass grave was destroyed while the families were waiting for permission to exhume