Mexican authorities find 45 bags of body parts outside Guadalajara

Tribune Content Agency

MEXICO CITY — Mexican forensic experts were working Thursday to identify human remains found in at least 45 bags discovered in a gorge outside the city of Guadalajara.

Authorities discovered the sealed, black plastic bags on Tuesday during a search for seven young employees of a local call center who went missing in late May. Testing is expected to show whether the remains — which authorities said are male and female — are those of the employees.

A helicopter was assisting firefighters and police in the difficult task of extracting the bags from the steep terrain. The operation could last several days, said Luis Joaquin Mendez, chief prosecutor of Jalisco state, which includes Guadalajara.

The bags were apparently tossed into the chasm — about 120 feet in depth — from a forest overlook on the northern fringes of Guadalajara.

The apparent kidnapping of the call center workers, five men and two women, has stunned Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-most populous city. The missing workers were in their 20s and 30s, authorities said.

The head of Mexico’s Ministry of Security told reporters that a preliminary investigation indicates that the workers were involved in “some type of fraud” and telephone extortion. But the sister of one of the workers said that her brother was selling vacation packages at the call center, Spain’s El Pais newspaper reported.

The news of the bags filled with body parts came as thousands descend on the city for the Guadalajara International Film Festival, a weeklong event that kicks off Saturday and draws visitors from across the globe.

Mexico, plagued by organized crime and drug cartels, has been suffering a decades-long epidemic of disappearances. Roughly 110,000 people have been listed as officially missing, according to government figures. The state of Jalisco leads with some 15,000 reported disappeared.

The case of the call center employees recalled for many another gruesome episode from 2018, when three film students in Guadalajara went missing, sparking large-scale protests in the city. Police later said that the three were beaten, killed and their bodies dissolved in acid. Officials linked the murders to organized crime.

Jalisco state is home turf of a number of criminal syndicates, including the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, considered among Mexico’s fastest-growing and most violent.

(Staff writer Leila Miller and special correspondent Cecilia Sanchez Vidal contributed to this report.)