Smoking pit oven leads to discovery of “bones, skin and burnt human flesh,” relatives of missing Mexicans say


A group of relatives searching for some of Mexico’s roughly 100,000 missing persons said it had discovered around two dozen bags containing human remains in a clandestine cemetery.

The bones and other charred remains were found on Sunday at a ranch in El Salto in the western state of Jalisco, according to the Guerreros Buscadores collective.

After arriving at the site accompanied by National Guard personnel, the group discovered a smoking pit oven and noticed a foul stench, according to one of its members, Indira Navarro.

“While exploring, we began to locate bones, skin and burnt human flesh,” she told AFP, adding: “We’re talking about a clandestine cemetery.”

Members of the National Guard guard the area where a group of searching mothers from the collective “Guerreros Buscadores” located two clandestine crematory ovens and 27 bags with human remains during the search for their relatives in El Salto, Jalisco State, Mexico on March 24, 2024. 

ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images

There was no immediate comment from the state prosecutor’s office, which was expected to inspect the site.

Collectives searching for missing persons say that drug trafficking cartels and other organized crime gangs use brick and other ovens to incinerate their victims and leave no trace.

Most of Mexico’s missing persons have vanished since the country launched a major offensive against the cartels in 2006.

Jalisco, where the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel operates, is one of the regions with the most people to have disappeared and the scene of turf wars between rival drug gangs. Just last week, prosecutors there said they found five dead bodies piled in a bulletproof SUV.

Last June in Jalisco, authorities found 45 bags containing human remains in a gorge. Four months before that, 31 bodies were exhumed by authorities from two clandestine graves in Jalisco.

In addition, nearly 450,000 people have been murdered across the country since 2006.

The country’s forensic system is overwhelmed, and tens of thousands of unidentified bodies lie unclaimed in morgues or mass graves. 


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