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Mexican families carry out their own investigations to find the disappeared

Leaked document estimates 25,000 people have gone missing since Calderón launched his offensive on drug cartels

Jo Tuckman in Mexico City
The Guardian, Friday 30 November 2012 16.22 GMT

Since her teenage daughter went missing eight years ago, Silvia Ortiz has known that any progress in the case depends on her alone. “I still don’t know if Fanny is alive or not. Maybe she is in a mass grave and I will never find her, but I have to keep looking,” Ortiz says. “If I don’t, who will?”

This was true even in the hours immediately after Fanny’s disappearance on her way home from a basketball match in the city of Torreón in northern Mexico. With the police dragging their feet, the family brought in sniffer dogs that followed the 16-year-old’s trail until it stopped abruptly at a roadside. Then they found clues linking the abduction to criminals associated with the Zetas drug cartel. When the authorities still did nothing, they discovered that the official heading the investigation was the lover of one of their prime suspects.

In the following years, the pattern was repeated: Ortiz turned up fresh leads, only for the authorities to ignore them. Meanwhile, Mexico’s drug war spiralled out of control: tens of thousands were killed – more than 100,000 by some counts – and many others simply vanished. There is no reliable data on the number of people forcibly disappeared during the drug violence, but a document from the Mexican attorney general’s office leaked to the Washington Post lists 25,000 adults and children who have gone missing since the start of the Calderón offensive. The documents were reportedly leaked by bureaucrats frustrated with the outgoing government’s failure to openly recognise the size of the problem.  Leer más de esta entrada

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