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Across Mexico, More Than 130 Groups Work To Find Missing Loved Ones

A federal official in Mexico recently estimated that there are roughly 130 volunteer groups in the country dedicated to finding the bodies of missing loved ones.

Karla Quintana, the head of the National Searching Commission, shared that estimate with the newspaper Reforma, but qualified it saying that new groups are being formed all the time.

A number of such groups have formed in Sonora, and their work is reflected in the 143 bodies exhumed from clandestine graves in recent years, one of the highest figures in the country, according to a recent government report. The state also has over 1,200 missing people, the third-highest figure in the country, according to another report

“There are 130 groups that she knows of,” said Ceci Patricia Flores, founder of the Sonoran Searching Mothers. “But there are many more groups.”

Her group recently helped start another in the border city of Nogales that has had several successful searches in recent weeks. So many groups have formed because of what Flores described as the “ineptitude” of authorities to find missing people.

Murphy Woodhouse was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.