Mexican officials have discovered hundreds of skeletal remains scattered on ranches in a stretch of towns along the U.S.-Mexico border as they carried out a wide search to locate missing people.
Coahuila state prosecutors’ spokesman Jesus Carranza said Monday that the remains were burned and extremely hard to identify.
News of the grisly finds came at the same time 12 bodies were unearthed from clandestine graves in the southern Mexico state of Guerrero and about two months after 67 bodies were found in western Mexico. Such discoveries remain common despite government claims that the number of killings has gone down in the past year.
Police in Coahuila haven’t said whether an organized crime group is suspected in the skeletal remains, but the area is known to be dominated by the violent Zetas drug cartel. Officers have arrested 10 men, including four police officers suspected of aiding a criminal group, the state attorney general’s office said in a press release.
The police operation took place on ranches in 11 different towns around the border city of Piedras Negras, right across Eagle Pass, Texas, after interviews with family members and at least 32 former local officials. Usually, remains like these have been found in mass graves, but these were left on the surface in the region known as Five Springs, Carranza said.
Two months ago, authorities excavated for several days in recovering 67 bodies that had been bound or gagged in a remote town by Lake Chapala, a popular spot with tourists and American retirees.
It is a region where the Knights Templar and New Generation drug cartels are fighting each other. Local police officers who confessed to handing over people to the New Generation organization led investigators to the scene, officials said.