Mexico: Too Many Mass Graves in Guerrero, Not Enough Transparency


The 43 normalista students who were attacked by Guerrero municipal police forces and armed gunmen on September 26 are still considered missing. Reports of mass graves in various locations of Guerrero have surfaced since the investigation began but so far none of the evidence recovered has offered any clues as to the location of the normalistas. The investigations are not going smoothly. We can’t even tell you how many mass graves have been found in Iguala… no one knows.

The Graves of Guerrero

We have had a very difficult time confirming exactly how many mass graves total have been found in Guerrero since the normalistas disappeared on September 26. We learned yesterday that 6 more mass graves have been located in Monte Hored, discovered by members of the Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (UPOEG). TeleSur reported last night that the total was 19. Here is a list of 16 mass graves and locations according to La Jornada:

Pueblo Viejo – 6 graves (found Oct 4)
Las Parotas – 4 graves (found Oct 14)
Monte Hored – 6 graves (found Oct 15)

Tonight just before publishing this article a new discovery was made of 8 more mass graves in Iguala.

“A few minutes ago Guerrero community police informed of finding 8 more narcofosas (narco graves) in western Iguala”

There are plenty of speculations circulating as to how many known mass graves are in Iguala and the numbers vary. This has been the case with information coming out of Guerrero ever since the normalistas were attacked on September 26.

The truth? No one knows how many mass graves have been found in Guerrero. Our own sources tell us that authorities have not allowed the media to access the grave sites and the prosecutor has not given any official numbers.

READ: Government Palace in Guerrero Burned Down by Normalistas

Total Lack of Transparency

The Mexican authorities have not been forthcoming with accurate information and that alone should send up immediate red flags that the investigation is not entirely on the level.

Guerrero Governor Angel Aguirre has been tweeting up a storm assuring transparency in the investigation but public comments from Aguirre or any representatives of the state of Guerrero are just lip service if the authorities withhold information or interfere in the investigation.

“The investigation is and will continue in a transparent manner and as usual @fgeguerrero will inform the public of progress.”

@fgeguerro tweeted an image of people who have been arrested so far listing them as members of Guerreros Unidos. Click here for a full size PDF of the image. So there’s that.

Despite ardent tweets from the governor hashtagged #HastaEncontrarlos and continued arrests of people with alleged ties to drug cartels, several international organizations are not convinced the investigation is proceeding in a transparent manner.

The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) is conducting their own investigation although they’ve been kicked out of one of the locations of mass graves and are reportedly not being allowed at crimes scenes to work.

EAAF is an international team of experts comprised of anthropologists, archaeologists, forensic scientists, criminologists and ballistic specialists. The team is world renowned for their work in identifying human remains in countries where massive human rights violations have occurred. They have worked on cases in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Peru, Bosnia, Kosovo, Croatia, Sierra Leone, Iraq and in recent years Mexico. EAAF investigated the murders of women in Juarez, Chihuahua, and the graves of San Fernando, Tamaulipas.

Attorney Vidulfo Rosales told Proceso that EAAF has encountered a number of obstacles in doing their job. They have been denied access to some of the mass graves and have been excluded from meetings with the federal government pertaining to the ongoing investigation.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both criticized the investigation into the disappearance of the normalistas. An October 6 statement issued by Amnesty International lays out some valid concerns regarding the current criminal investigation in Iguala which they called “Chaotic and Hostile“:

While federal authorities are now attempting to identify the remains found yesterday in a mass grave, the investigations into the disappearances and murders remain under state authority. Amnesty International is concerned that this could undermine the investigations, given issues of alleged corruption, including infiltration of organised criminal elements into police forces, and the track record of failed investigations and impunity. – Amnesty International

Human Rights Watched sent a letter on October 8 to Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong expressing major doubts regarding the effectiveness of the Iguala investigation:

Mexico’s efforts to address the large number of cases of enforced disappearances and abductions throughout the country in recent years have been marred by inexplicable delays and contradictory public statements. – HRW

Professional, world renown forensic teams need access to crime scenes to do their job. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been down this road before with Mexican investigations. The number of mass graves being discovered in Iguala is rising daily. It is critical that complaints from human rights groups be heard and EAAF be allowed to do their jobs without interference.


Teams of Autodefensas have joined the searches. Autodefensas and other citizen patrols seem to be the most effective at finding mass graves and issue their own warnings about relying on state authorities to do a proper investigation. Eliseo Villar Castillo, the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC) told Michoacan Tres Punto Cero that there were issues just this past August where police were removing bodies from graves and tampering with evidence.

VIDEO: Civil groups in Mexico join the search for normalistas

In summary, the criminal investigation into the disappearance of the 43 normalistas is a total shitshow. Massive protests have already taken place and are continuing across Mexico demanding #JusticaParaAyotzinapa, but justice will not be served without serious changes in the way the Guerrero government is handling the Iguala case. Taking into account past grievances and the current case it’s not hard to understand why Mexicans are demanding that Governor Angel Aguirre resign.

Mexican band Café Tacvba show support for Ayotzinapa on stage October 15, 2014


La Jornada
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Mexico Voices
Noticia IRZA
Eje Central
24 Horas
Michoacan Tres Punto Cero

About Author

Erin Gallagher is a multimedia artist, translator and writer for Revolution News.