Mexican authorities believe bodies discovered near Ojinaga could be those of missing migrants
Authorities in Mexico say they’ve found the remains of multiple people in a mass grave who officials believe were among a group of 13 migrants that went missing near Ojinaga two years ago.
That’s according to a story out this month from the Dallas Morning News.
Reporter Alfredo Corchado first covered the migrants’ disappearance just south of Presidio, Texas as part of a Marfa Public Radio collaboration.
Now, he reports that it’s believed the migrants were killed by organized crime members amidst a rising feud between drug cartels in the region.
Marfa Public Radio spoke with Corchado for the latest on the investigation.
On the migrants’ backstory
The 13 people who went missing near Ojinaga in September 2021 were all Mexican citizens, Corchado said, who were heading to the U.S. for work and family.
“They were headed for places like Midland, Albuquerque, others were trying to reunite with family members,” he said. “They had worked for weeks, if not months, to raise the money to pay the human smugglers.”
According to Corchado, the group was last known to have arrived in the Mexican municipality of Coyame del Sotol, just south of the border from Presidio, Texas.
“And as of September 25, family members reported that was the last time they heard from them,” he said.
On the discovery of a mass grave
A human rights activist following the case from Chihuahua City told the Dallas Morning News that at least nine of the bodies found were confirmed by DNA matches to be among the larger group that went missing.
Officials are “not saying much,” Corchado said, about DNA results for the people from the original group who are still unaccounted for.
“Either they don’t know, or they’re keeping some of it private for now,” he said. “What’s interesting is that this is an area where authorities had looked in the past.”
In 2021, officials said they had conducted multiple searches in the area where the migrants went missing.
“They were looking in that area, they looked at other places near the border, and came back and said ‘nothing, we can’t find any trace,’” Corchado said. “So it brings up a lot of questions, you know, how closely did you search, I mean what happened?”
On the arrest of “El Menchaca”
The discovery of the bodies coincided with the arrest in Texas of a man named Sergio Menchaca Pizarro, or “El Menchaca,” believed to be a top drug cartel leader in the Ojinaga area.
“We confirmed according to government records that he is a U.S. citizen,” Corchado said.
Multiple officials told the Dallas Morning News that Menchaca shared information about where the mass grave was located.
On how the migrants’ families have reacted
Though family members initially spoke publicly about the search for the missing group of 13, they have since become more private about the matter, Corchado said.
“We’ve been dealing mainly through their spokesperson,” Corachdo said. “He has told me the families are just absolutely shattered, they’re devastated.”