Searching Mothers find 30 clandestine graves in Mexico’s Sonoran desert

By January 17, 2024

Mexico City, Mexico — The remains of 50 people were discovered in approximately 30 clandestine graves in Mexico’s Sonoran desert over the weekend, according to Madres Buscadoras (Searching Mothers), a collective of family members that search for missing relatives. 

The search in Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora, lasted three days, and bodies were reportedly found bearing the hallmarks of organized crime assassinations, such as bodies found with their hands bound. 

Ceci Flores, who leads the local Searching Mothers chapter in Sonora, wrote on X on January 14 about the gruesome discovery.  

“Since yesterday, we have found 29 graves on the same property; there are 14 bodies in only four of them. We are walking in a clandestine cemetery. We could be stepping on our children without knowing it. Here is buried the hope of a country that is dying,” wrote Flores. 

Flores founded the Searching Mothers chapter in Sonora in 2019 following the disappearance of her two sons. While her sons remain missing, her work helping other people look for their relatives has resulted in the discovery of thousands of victims buried in clandestine burial sites used by Mexico’s criminal underworld. 

Flores’ work has also resulted in threats by criminal groups trying to stop her search. In May 2023, she reported receiving videos depicting murders and people being dismembered with threatening messages. 

Although she has never stopped searching for her sons, Flores has asked Mexico’s drug cartels for a truce to ensure the safety of the searchers as they look for their missing loved ones. 

Mexico is currently facing a security crisis that has led to an estimated 113,000 disappearances to date.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has dismissed this figure, claiming that political adversaries have inflated the actual number of disappearances to hurt his administration. 

In December, López Obrador shared new data on disappearances, challenging the longstanding figure of over 113,000 missing people. However, the Mexican government’s new methodology, which reports that more than 30% of the missing have been found, has been challenged by different organizations and rights groups.