HomeNewsAnalysisMexico’s Disappeared Are Drug War’s Hidden Victims
ANALYSIS

Mexico’s Disappeared Are Drug War’s Hidden Victims

MEXICO / 7 APR 2011 BY PATRICK CORCORAN EN

Mexico’s foremost human rights body says that almost 5,400 people have gone missing in the nation since 2006, the year that President Felipe Calderon was elected.

The Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH) also reported that just under 9,000 dead bodies recovered during the same period have not yet been identified.

The unclaimed bodies and disappeared Mexicans are of a piece with a broader decline in Mexican security over the past few years. A wide variety of crimes related to the drug trade have spiked under Calderon, with murders topping out in 2010 at more than 15,000, after years of increases. However, according to the BBC, the issue of disappeared people in Mexico predates the Calderon administration, starting to rise in the 1990s.

A large number of the disappearances are thought to be related to organized crime. Victims of criminal groups are often disposed of in such a way that their remains will be forever lost; after his 2009 arrest, Santiago Meza Flores, nicknamed the “Pozolero del Teo,” or “Teo’s Soup-maker,” admitted to dissolving more than 300 bodies in vats of acid while working for Tijuana Cartel boss Teo Garcia earlier this decade.

Excelsior reports that the list also included some cases in which individuals were kidnapped and forced to work for a criminal group, a practice that has been documented in the northern states of Tamaulipas and Coahuila. Other disappearances have been blamed on military troops, roughly 50,000 of whom have been deployed around Mexico during Calderon’s term.

However, the BBC also reports that the missing are often young males who have jobs unrelated to organized crime. Many of the disappearances are the result of group abductions, such as the kidnapping of 20 Mexican tourists in Acapulco last year. The men were later found in a mass grave not far from the famous resort city. Other mass graves, housing unidentified victims of criminal groups, have been found across the nation in recent years.

The CNDH report comes just days after a UN report charged the Mexican military with playing a role in many of the disappearances over the past few years. The UN called on the Mexican government to remove the army from the streets “within a short timeframe.”

The Calderon administration rejected the recommendation. “Mexican families are not going to be left to the mercy of criminal groups,” said Felipe de Jesus Zamora, undersecretary of the interior, in a press conference. “It would be irresponsible to withdraw the armed forces at this time.”

While it remains a controversial issue, many polls have shown that the use of the military in a domestic policing capacity has wide support among the public.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America's largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 5 FEB 2019

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hailed a massive improvement in his nation’s security, but the gains he trumpeted have…

COLOMBIA / 12 AUG 2011

The market for religious artifacts in Mexico and Latin America is booming, and criminal groups across the region…

MEXICO / 12 DEC 2019

The seizure of an Italian oil supply vessel by pirates in the Gulf of Mexico in November, in which two…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…