Mass Grave Site Digging Ends

Mass Grave Site Digging Ends
Posted by FoM on January 20, 2000 at 16:21:27 PT
By The Associated Press
Source: New York Times
Mexican and U.S. officials have ended their excavations of mass grave sites along the countries' border after turning up only nine bodies, Mexican prosecutors announced Thursday. Officials began digging at four ranches near Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, this fall. At the time, one official cited an informant as saying drug smugglers might have buried as many as 100 bodies at the ranches. 
The digging was called off Wednesday, Attorney General Jorge Madrazo said. He said investigators were interviewing more witnesses to drug slayings, but that no specific locations had been identified for more digging. Seven of the nine bodies have been tentatively identified, and the identifications indicate they were killed by a drug-smuggling gang headed by the Carrillo Fuentes family, said Jose Larrieta Carrasco, head of the Mexican attorney general's organized crime unit. Madrazo said five people have been detained in the case, but he gave no details. ``What we have developed in this investigation will lead to very interesting things,'' Larrieta said. ``We will find the people responsible.'' Madrazo said all the victims were men, four in their late 30s and five more than 50 years old. He said six of the remains had been bound with duct tape and the others appeared to have been blindfolded. Four were shot to death. The cause of death of the other five is still under investigation. Neither of the officials would give the victims' identities, saying they have yet to be confirmed. They also didn't say whether any of the victims were Americans. Madrazo also said a building on one of the ranches was a drug laboratory, and that agents found chemicals and equipment used to process cocaine there. The announcement of the graves' existence in late November set off a massive operation, with hundreds of soldiers, federal police and FBI forensic experts poring over the digging sites. At the time, a U.S. law enforcement official who asked not to be identified told the AP that an informant had said as many as 100 bodies could be found on the ranches. But Larrieta denied that any informant ever told that to either Mexican or U.S. authorities. ``There is testimony that there were these graves, and we were investigating more than 100 disappearances,'' he said. ``At no time did we say that in these places we would find more than 100 bodies.'' In Washington, Justice Department spokesman Myron Marlin said: ``No one could have said for sure what the count would be. But the discovery of even one identified body, let alone nine, could provide closure for those families.'' MEXICO CITY (AP)Published: Janaury 20, 2000Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company Related Articles:Valley Of Death - Time Magazine - 12/12/99 Kin, Agents Frustrated As Juarez Hunt Fizzles - 12/12/99 Human Rights and the American Drug War - DrugSense Editorial: A Typical Week in the Drug War - DRCNet Massacres Reflect Failure of US War On Drugs-USA Today 
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