Mexican mother's 'luck' finding missing son's remains

·2-min read
The names and pictures of missing persons are displayed at the offices of a group of relatives in the northwestern Mexican city of Hermosillo (AFP/ALFREDO ESTRELLA)

Five months after Jose Carlos Vazquez was abducted by suspected criminals, his family found his apparent remains on a hillside in northwestern Mexico on their first search attempt.

Despite their grief, they are considered "lucky" by some relatives of the more than 95,000 people missing in the violence-ravaged country.

Many relatives have spent years searching in vain for their loved ones, in stark contrast to the Vazquez family.

Vazquez's mother Yadira and sister Andrea had joined Seekers for Peace, one of the groups looking for missing Mexicans, many of whom are presumed to be victims of drug-related violence.

They had not heard from Vazquez since he was taken from his home in Magdalena de Kino in the state of Sonora, and feared the worst.

The search site has been the scene of confrontations between criminal gangs, and the group was only able to access it with a military and police escort.

After several hours looking they were about to give up when a member of the group found bones along with shorts, a T-shirt and a bank card believed to have belonged to Vazquez.

His relatives had no doubt -- they had found his remains.

"Oh, my son! The animals ate him!" his mother said when she saw bones believed to be those of the missing 28-year-old.

Finding the remains of a loved one on the first attempt is highly unusual in Mexico, where many relatives accuse the authorities of not doing enough to help them.

"It's sad to say, but how lucky that they recovered their son during the first search," Charlin Unger, another member of the group who is looking for her son, told AFP.

Over the years, these collectives have developed forensic skills as they often work without support from the authorities.

They have learned how to use picks and shovels to carefully dig for bones and even recognize the stench from bodies buried in clandestine graves.

"It was their first search and in that first search to find your loved one and in those conditions, it's something that hurts our soul," said group leader Cecilia Delgado.

Now the Vazquez family is awaiting the result of a DNA test so they claim the remains and hold a funeral.

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