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Grave answers some questions in Mexico

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By The Los Angeles Times
Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 8:48 p.m.
 

MEXICO CITY — For three months, the daylight kidnapping of a group of young people from a bar in the heart of Mexico's capital haunted residents.

How was a mass abduction possible in a city that, it was generally thought, remained relatively free of the most vicious violence stalking other parts of the nation?

The mystery appears to be unraveling, but the answers are not comforting.

In a muddy mass grave 25 miles or so east of downtown Mexico City, 13 bodies were exhumed beginning on Thursday, along with guns and handcuffs. As of Friday, five were identified as members of the group who went missing from the Heaven bar in the sometimes-fashionable Zona Rosa district on a Sunday morning in May.

Security videos showed the men and women being ushered into several vehicles outside the bar, just a block from Reforma Boulevard, the city's main thoroughfare, and a short distance from the U.S Embassy.

They were never seen again.

On Thursday, government investigators on an unrelated operation to search for illegal guns came across the mass grave near the town of Tlalmanalco, authorities said. A slow exhumation began.

On Friday afternoon, in a hastily arranged news conference in Mexico City, officials with the federal attorney general's office said five bodies had been identified based on tattoos, dental records, clothing and, for one, a prosthetic device.

A total of 13 bodies were pulled from the muddy pit on a Christmas tree farm, said Renato Sales, a senior prosecutor.

That matches the number of people who vanished on leaving the bar May 26. (Many accounts have listed only 12 victims, but families have said relatives of a 13th missing person never filed a police report.)

The other bodies will be identified through DNA testing, which may take at least another day, authorities said. Several of the corpses were badly decomposed, they said. The grave was covered with cement, asbestos and lime, Sales said.

Authorities said they suspect that the victims were abducted as part of a battle among rival, small-bit drug dealers.

Families insisted their loved ones were not involved with drugs, but all were from the notorious Tepito neighborhood, known for counterfeiting and other criminal activities.

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