Mexico: 166 skulls found in mass graves in Veracruz state | News | DW | 07.09.2018
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Mexico: 166 skulls found in mass graves in Veracruz state

Scraps of clothing, ID cards and scores of human skulls have been dug up in mass graves in eastern Mexico. It's the latest gruesome discovery in Veracruz state, which has been rocked by drug cartel violence.

Investigators have uncovered 32 mass graves containing human remains in the Mexican state of Veracruz, prosecutors announced on Thursday.

After weeks of secretive operations to excavate the sites in the Gulf coast state, prosecutors said that they found 166 skulls in the graves — but that the number of actual bodies buried there could be higher.

"Aside from human remains, we have found more than 200 items of clothing, 114 pieces of identification, as well as different accessories and personal items," the state attorney general of Veracruz, Jorge Winckler, told a news conference.

Authorities asked local residents with missing family members to provide DNA samples to help identify the bodies. An analysis of the remains revealed that the bodies had most likely been there for at least two years.

Clothing items found at the site of a mass grave in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, Mexico (picture-alliance/AP Photo)

Hundreds of articles of clothing and ID cards were also found in the unmarked graves

Violence in Veracruz

An unidentified person tipped off state authorities about the site on August 8, Winckler said. He did not reveal the exact locations of the graves, saying this was necessary to ensure the safety of investigators still working at the site.

Drug cartels in Mexico frequently use remote pits to dispose of their victims.

Veracruz state has been hit particularly hard by violent crime, due in part to its role as an important trafficking route for gangs moving drugs north to the US border.

Violence in Veracruz rose sharply under former Governor Javier Duarte, who is accused of presiding over numerous human rights abuses. He's currently in jail awaiting trial over allegations that he was involved with organized crime rings and stole millions of dollars in public funds.

Thursday's find was one of the biggest mass grave discoveries in Mexico, following a March 2017 investigation that found nearly 250 human skulls in unmarked graves in Veracruz state.

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