September 27, 2023 5:48 am

Endangered Mothers Risk Lives Following Deadly Bomb Ambush of Mexican Police

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A drug cartel bombing that targeted police in Mexico has not only resulted in casualties but has also had a devastating impact on the volunteer groups that search for the country’s missing individuals. These search groups, known as “collectives,” are comprised mainly of distraught mothers searching for the bodies of their loved ones who have fallen victim to kidnapping gangs and drug cartels. However, in the aftermath of the bombing, authorities have suspended police involvement in these searches, causing outrage among the volunteer groups.

The bombing took place in Tlajomulco, Jalisco, where an anonymous caller had tipped off a volunteer searcher about a supposed mass grave. However, rather than leading to a genuine burial site, the cartel had set up improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and detonated them as a police convoy passed by. Four police officers and two civilians lost their lives, while 14 others were injured. Governor Enrique Alfaro’s decision to suspend police involvement in the searches following this incident has drawn criticism from the collectives, especially considering Jalisco has the highest number of missing persons in the country.

The work undertaken by these collectives is dangerous and arduous, with six volunteers having been killed in Mexico since 2021. The volunteers endure extreme heat, rough terrain, and the grisly task of scouring suspected clandestine burial sites. They use steel rods to detect the scent of decomposing bodies buried beneath the earth. Despite the risks involved, these individuals have taken matters into their own hands due to the government’s perceived inaction and the lack of closure regarding the fate of their loved ones.

For Hector Flores, whose son went missing two years ago, the governor’s decision is deeply frustrating. Not only does it symbolize the government’s inability to find the disappeared, but it also represents a failure to provide security. Previously, anonymous calls were crucial in locating remains, making the governor’s announcement a significant setback for the search efforts. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador acknowledged the increasingly serious threat posed by Mexican drug cartels, who have begun using bombs, IEDs, and explosives regularly. However, the recent bomb plot has shed light on the delicate relationship between search groups and cartels – an unwritten agreement that has allowed the searchers to operate, albeit cautiously.

The cartels have previously tried to intimidate search groups, especially if they ventured into active grave sites. To avoid drawing the cartels’ wrath, these searchers have publically stated that their objective is solely to reclaim their children’s bodies, not to gather evidence for legal action. In fact, former or repentant cartel members have proven to be valuable sources of information. Ceci Flores, the leader of a search group in Sonora, publicly appealed to the cartels for a truce to ensure the searchers’ safety. Some gang leaders responded, acknowledging the searchers’ work and agreeing not to interfere.

Despite Governor Alfaro’s decision, the search collectives remain resolute. They view it as an ineffective attempt to control their efforts, given the government’s historical lack of support. The governor’s directive will not deter these mothers, like Ceci Flores, who have already lost children and received no answers from authorities about their fate. As they continue their search for the disappeared, they implore the government to provide the necessary protection instead of obstructing their work.

Some search groups have expressed doubt about the governor’s claims regarding the roadside bomb attack. They deny receiving any phone call warning about the incident and note that they do not conduct fieldwork at night for safety reasons. These groups believe that the bombing was more of a message from the cartels to the government rather than a direct attack on the searchers themselves.

The bombing incident serves as a tragic reminder of the ongoing violence and insecurity in Mexico, perpetuated by drug cartels and criminal organizations. While the government struggles to combat these threats effectively, the burden falls on the brave volunteers who search tirelessly for answers and closure. The suspension of police involvement in the search efforts only intensifies the challenges faced by these collectives, making their determination and resilience all the more commendable.

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Original Source: Endangered Mothers Risk Lives Following Deadly Bomb Ambush of Mexican Police

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