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Mexican officials identify five bodies in grave as kidnap victims

August 23, 2013|By Tracy Wilkinson
  • A police vehicle sits at a ranch in Tlalmanalco, outside Mexico City, where five bodies found in a mass grave were identified as those of young people who disappeared from a bar in the capital three months ago.
A police vehicle sits at a ranch in Tlalmanalco, outside Mexico City, where… (Adriana Gomez / Associated…)

MEXICO CITY -- At least five bodies recovered from a mass grave outside Mexico City have been identified as those of young people kidnapped in broad daylight from a bar in the heart of this capital three months ago, Mexican authorities said Friday.

Officials from the federal attorney general’s office said the five were identified based on tattoos, dental records and, for one, a prosthetic device.

A total of 13 bodies were pulled from the muddy pit on a Christmas tree farm about 25 miles east of Mexico City, Renato Sales, a senior prosecutor, said in a hastily called news conference.

That matches the number of people who went missing from the Heaven after-hours bar on May 26 in the sometimes-fashionable Zona Rosa district. (Many accounts listed only 12 victims, but families have said relatives of a 13th missing person never filed a report.)

The other bodies will be identified through DNA testing that may take another day or more, authorities said, adding that several corpses were badly decomposed.

The case has riveted Mexicans because it challenged the conventional wisdom that this sprawling capital has remained relatively untainted by the vicious violence sweeping much of the country. It has also caused political trouble for Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera, a former top prosecutor who has continued to insist that drug cartels do not operate in the city.

Authorities said they suspected the victims were abducted as part of a battle among rival, small-bit drug dealers. Families insisted their loved ones were not involved in drugs, but all came from the notorious Tepito neighborhood, known for counterfeiting and other criminal enterprises.

Those whose identities were announced Friday included three men and two women, aged between 24 and 33. The missing include a 16-year-old and several other teens.

Authorities have said they were drawn to the site of the mass grave by an unrelated investigation into illegal gun running.

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wilkinson@latimes.com

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