At least 59 bodies have been found in mass graves in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, the government-backed National Search Commission (CNB) has announced.
“We found 59 bodies in various clandestine graves, there are other points on which we continue to work,” said Karla Quintana, head of the CNB from the commune of Salvatierra, where authorities discovered the mass grave.
“The vast majority of bodies appear to be young people, sometimes very young, probably among them adolescents.”
Information on the possible mass grave first emerged two weeks ago and the CNB started the search last week, in coordination with state and federal authorities.
More than 80 people were involved in the search and at least 52 excavations carried out, leading to the discovery of the bodies, according to the authorities.
Violence in the state of Guanajuato has increased in recent months, due to the turf war between the cartels of Santa Rosa de Lima and Jalisco Nueva Generacion, which are both involved in drug and fuel trafficking.
In July, heavily armed men attacked a rehabilitation centre for former drug addicts in the city of Irapuato, resulting in the death of 27 people.
In early August, authorities from the city of Santa Cruz announced the arrest of the leader of the Santa Rosa de Lima cartel, Jose Antonio Yepez, also known as “El Marro” while his successor, Adan Ochoa was arrested in mid-October in the region.
Drug cartels in other parts of Mexico have deposited victims’ bodies in several mass graves over the years.
In May this year, the remains of at least 25 people were found buried in a mass grave outside the western Mexican city of Guadalajara, in Jalisco state.
In 2019, at least three mass graves were also found in the country with an estimated 100 bodies.
A year before that, the remains of 166 people were dug up in Veracruz, while another 250 bodies were discovered in the same state in 2017.
More than 3,000 unmarked graves with nearly 5,000 bodies have been found in Mexico since the government deployed the military to fight the country’s powerful drug cartels in 2006.
Since the government of former President Felipe Calderon launched its war on drug traffickers that year, an estimated 250,000 people have lost their lives in Mexico, according to official figures.
A further 40,000 people are still missing.
In response to the latest wave of violence, the current government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who became president in 2018, has deployed thousands of military and national guard troops in some hotspot states.