By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
April 25, 2011
Reporting from Matamoros, Mexico— Suitcases started piling up, unclaimed, at the depot where buses crossing northern Tamaulipas state ended their route. That should have been an early clue.
Then the bodies started piling up, pulled by forensic workers from two dozen hidden graves in the scruffy brush-covered ravines around the town of San Fernando, 80 miles south of this city that borders Brownsville, Texas.
At least 177 corpses have been recovered in the last few weeks, most of them, officials now say, passengers snatched from interstate buses, tortured and slaughtered. Women were raped before being killed, and some victims were burned alive, according to accounts from survivors who eventually overcame their fears and came forward.
The slayings have horrified a Mexican public already awash in violence and led commentators to call them “our Auschwitz” and a “Mexican genocide.”
Worse yet is the realization that the killing in Tamaulipas state has been going on for months — including the brutal slayings of bus passengers — and no one, not the bus companies, nor the police, nor the officials in charge, acted to stop it.
Elida Martinez, a gray-haired woman in her 60s, was one of dozens of mothers, fathers and siblings of the missing who were waiting in the morgue here the other day to offer blood samples for DNA testing.
Two of her daughters disappeared in February, one kidnapped from the hotel in San Fernando where she worked and the other seized from her home in the middle of the night a short time later. Between them they left behind four children.
“You pray to God you won’t find them here,” she said. Yet the gut-wrenching uncertainty tears her apart. “You don’t sleep. You can’t work. You live in anguish.”
After the massacre last year of 72 mostly Central American immigrants near San Fernando, the government of President Felipe Calderon promised the world, including angry Central American authorities, that justice would be done and the popular routes through northern Mexico toward the United States would be guarded…”LA Times Exclusive