The Paradox of Mexico’s Mass Graves

Drug cartels are widely believed to be behind the mass grave. Most of the victims are yet to be identified. A mother living a few blocks from the field said she had no idea it was there. In April, residents filed a complaint that the smell of rotting corpses being unearthed was seeping into their homes.

.. I’ve covered Mexico’s violence since 2001, but I am still dumbstruck by the extent to which normal life seems to carry on next door to such terrors. A study released last month found that at least 1,400 bodies were dug up from mass graves across the country between 2009 and 2014. And those are just a fraction of the 176,000 murders that police have counted here over the last decade.

.. At the same time, Mexico has a trillion-dollar economy and is the eighth-most-visited tourist destination on the planet. The government denies there is an armed conflict going on.

.. Is it simply a horrendous crime problem, or is it an actual war?

.. whether people fleeing the violence can be classified as refugees.

.. the conflict is neither just crime nor civil war, but a new hybrid type of organized violence

..  When the size of the grave was revealed, the new state prosecutor, Jorge Winckler, told reporters: “It’s impossible that nobody knew what was going on here, with vehicles coming in and out. If that wasn’t with the complicity of authorities, I don’t know how it was done.”

.. The site was discovered not by the police but by mothers searching for their disappeared children.

.. One day, when a group of mothers were marching in protest, a car drew up and a mysterious man got out to give them a hand-drawn map showing where the mass grave was.

.. These cases illustrate key features of Mexico’s drug war. Most of its victims are not killed in battles — shootouts between armed groups, or clashes with the police and soldiers — but are dragged away by gunmen or are assassinated in hits.

.. Justice is rare. One study found that four out of five murders in Mexico go unpunished. Security forces do take on the cartels in parts of the country, but the police and officials are also caught working with the criminals, and even killing for them.

.. The cartels make billions smuggling heroin, cocaine and crystal meth to America, as well as from a portfolio of rackets from kidnapping to oil theft. That money is used to bribe police and politicians, who in turn help the cartels to eliminate anyone who stands in their way

.. The victims are not only rival cartel operatives but also include customs workers who won’t take bribes, inconvenient journalists and many who simply witnessed the wrong thing at the wrong time

.. The pattern of killing is perhaps most similar to that of the death squads of a dictatorship. And in Colinas de Santa Fe, children could play obliviously while at their doorstep was a mass grave akin to those left by the Islamic State.