Mexico’s official list of ‘disappeared’ tops 100,000 as drug gang violence ramps up

Mexico City — The number of missing persons in violence ravaged Mexico has exceeded 100,000, according to official records, with human rights groups calling for “immediate” action by the government to locate the missing persons. The country’s National Register of Missing Persons – which has been tracking disappearances since 1964 – said the whereabouts of 100,012 people are unknown as of Monday. About 75% are men.

The number of disappearances has skyrocketed in the wake of the escalating drug violence that has rocked the country for 16 years.

The Movement for Our Disappeared on Monday warned that the figure was “certainly well below the number” of cases reported daily, and called on the government to “handle this crisis in a comprehensive and immediate manner”.

Last April, the UN Committee against Enforced Disappearances warned that Mexico was experiencing an “alarming upward trend” in missing persons cases.

Mexico Mother's Day Protest
Protesters carry images of missing people on Mother’s Day at an annual march of the mothers of missing people to ask the government to locate them, in Mexico City, May 10, 2022.

Eduardo Verdugo/AP


Organized crime groups were mainly responsible for these disappearances, the UN body said, with “various degrees of acquiescence or negligence” on the part of officials.

The lack of official help in investigating the cases has led to families of the disappeared, especially mothers, forming groups that search clandestine graves in hopes of finding their relatives

The Mexican government has reported that about 37,000 unidentified bodies are being held in forensic services, although civil organizations warn the number could be much higher.

Authorities are working to consolidate a database of the missing persons with genetic samples, although many corpses have been buried without being identified due to the overcrowded morgues in the country.


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The UN’s top human rights body said the disappearances were a “human tragedy of enormous proportions”.

“No effort should be spared to end these human rights violations and abuses of extraordinary magnitude, and to defend the rights of victims to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. †

The first reported disappearances in Mexico date back to the authorities’ so-called “dirty war” against left-wing movements of the 1960s and 1980s.

Mexico has also recorded more than 340,000 deaths – mostly attributed to organized crime groups – since 2006, when a major military anti-drug offensive was launched.

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