Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Missing youths found in mass grave

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TLALMANALCO, Mexico -- Mexican authorities said Friday they have identified five bodies pulled from a mass grave as some of the 12 people kidnapped three months ago from a Mexico City bar almost within sight of the U.S. Embassy and the city's main boulevard.

Assistant attorney general Renato Sales told reporters 13 badly decomposed bodies have been pulled from a grave covered with cement, quicklime and asbestos discovered Thursday on a rural ranch east of Mexico City.

Ricardo Martinez, a lawyer for relatives of the missing, said there is no doubt the other bodies would also be identified as the missing youths, most of whom are from the rough Mexico City neighbourhood of Tepito.

"They're going to wind up identifying all of them," Martinez told The Associated Press. "I hope the SEIDO (the federal attorney general's office for organized crime) takes over the case, because now it's proven that this is organized crime."

Officials said the remains are at federal labs, where experts are using DNA tests, and they expect to have all of them identified soon. There was no immediate explanation about how the 13th body was related to the kidnapped youths.

"At this point we have plainly identified through genetic testing Alan Omar Athiencia," aged 26, said Renato Sales, adding "we have sufficient evidence" to identify the bodies of two other men and two women.

The head of the federal forensics office, Sara Monica Medina, said the bodies of the other four -- Gabriela Ruiz Martinez, Rafael Rojo Martinez, Guadalupe Morales Vargas, and Josue Piedra Moreno -- had been identified from implants, tattoos and other physical characteristics, and further tests were pending.

Investigators found a pistol, a shotgun and several pairs of handcuffs at a home on the ranch where the mass grave was found.

The young bar-goers vanished from the Heaven club at midday May 26, just a block from the leafy Paseo de Reforma, the capital's equivalent of the Champs-Elysees.

 

--The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2013 A27

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