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Families of missing Yaqui members question identity of remains, demand scientific evidence

Family members of seven Yaqui men who went missing in July say they don’t trust Sonoran officials who claim their loved ones’ remains were discovered last month.

It’s been more than 100 days since the men went missing from Yaqui territory in southern Sonora. And families of the disappeared say they need more evidence that the remains discovered last monthbelong to some of the missing men.

Anabela Carlón Flores, a spokesperson for the families, said during a press conference Tuesday that they are demanding officials share and explain DNA testing results used to identify the bodies, and that a second, independent forensic analysis be carried out.

She says doubts about the results were fueled by a lack of open communication from state and federal officials, as well as their timing - announced just before Mexico’s president visited Sonora to sign a so-called plan of justice to address historic harms against the Yaqui people.

In addition to the DNA testing, families are also asking for more information about the investigation into the disappearances, that a legal advisor to be appointed to assist them in communication with officials and for economic and psychological assistance for the families of the disappeared. The families added that bringing justice to the Yaqui in Sonora also requires the Mexican government to address ongoing injustices, including a series of murders and disappearances this year.

State officials say they will meet with families again next week to address those concerns.

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.