Project

The Biggest Mass Grave in Mexico

By the end of 2013, Lucy Genao realized that local police in the Mexican state of Veracruz were either unwilling or unable to locate her kidnapped son. So in desperation, Genao reached out to every Veracruz mother with a missing child that she could find. The WhatsApp group she started, which Genao named ‘Solecito’, or ‘Little Sunshine’, quickly ballooned into 150 mothers. The group traded stories and collectively realized that if they wanted to find their missing children, they’d have to do it themselves. That’s when Genao hit upon the idea of excavating narco gravesites. Nevertheless, even after the mothers underwent basic forensics training in 2016, they didn’t know if they’d ever have a chance to use the training. Where should they look? Then, out of nowhere, an anonymous man provided the mothers with a map and said, ‘dig here’.

When Solecito began excavating the barren field indicated on the map, they didn’t know what to expect. Most of the women had never dug a garden in their backyards, let alone exhumed a body. Besides, police had already surveyed the field and told them that there was nothing left to uncover. What was a group of distraught mothers going to find that professional law enforcement couldn’t? So far, they’ve found 270 bodies packed into 137 holes. And they’re still digging.

Body Hunters

The mothers of Mexico's missing learn forensic investigative techniques to try to uncover what happened to their children and identify bodies found in mass graves. 

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