Mexican drug cartels accept truce with mothers searching for disappeared love ones

By July 3, 2023

Mexico City, Mexico — A collective of mothers looking for their missing sons and daughters in Mexico, known as “Madres Buscadoras,” announced that drug cartels have accepted a nationwide “truce,” allowing mothers to more safely search for their relatives. 

According to Ceci Flores, founding member of the organization “Madres Buscadoras de Sonora,” a collective focused on searching for missing people in Mexico, three drug cartels have accepted the proposed nationwide truce.

“We want to share that the cartels already accepted this peace pact. I celebrate that in this Mexico that we live in at this moment in history, to ask for something like this has an echo. To the rest of the cartels, think about joining us. I believe that no one likes to be in danger, as those who responded to the call said. We are all fathers, mothers, brothers, and friends, and a lot of blood has already been spilled in our Mexico,” said Flores through a statement in social media on June 26. 

On May 30, Flores reportedly called drug cartels in Mexico, pleading for peace and for the criminal organizations to stop threatening and killing the mothers looking for their missing relatives and even asking cartels to share the possible location of bodies of missing persons through anonymous calls. 

Flores, whose sons Alejandro and Marco Antonio were abducted in 2015 and 2019, respectively, recently shared through social media that she had been sent images and videos depicting people being tortured and dismembered along with threatening messages. 

In Mexico, groups like the one led by Flores are met with unrelenting violence from criminal organizations looking to deter their efforts and preserve the criminals’ impunity, with its members often risking intimidation and murder. 

Navigating a legal framework fraught with impunity, parents of abducted or disappeared children face an often corrupted and negligent system that forces them to assume the work normally carried out by prosecutors and local police. 

Mothers such as Flores are tasked with the inconceivable burden of investigating the disappearance of their own children, sometimes going as far as sifting through charred human remains or exhuming bodies from clandestine graves.

Unprotected by the state, these mothers are frequently the target of criminals looking to keep their murders hidden.  

Undersecretary of Security and Citizen Protection Ricardo Mejía Berdeja shared that in 2022 five activists looking for their missing relatives were murdered. 

Official records of murders of people searching for missing persons reportedly started in 2010. Since then, at least 15 mothers looking for their missing relatives have been murdered, seven during the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. 

During his daily press conference on June 28, López Obrador welcomed the recent truce between factions of organized crime and the searching mothers, saying that while his government is not looking for a similar peace agreement with drug cartels, peace is always to be celebrated. “Of course, it is very good, everything that means calling for peace and non-violence, we have to support it,” the president said. 

“It is good that there is this attitude of the mothers of the disappeared and that those involved in crime listen, but we cannot guarantee that we will not act against those who violate the law. We cannot do that. There cannot be impunity.”