FBI joins probe of suspected mass graves near Juarez
November 30, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI has sent a group of agents to the Mexican border city of Juarez to aid Mexico's probe of two suspected mass grave sites where dozens of victims of drug- related killings may be buried.
The grave sites were discovered on two ranches near Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, government sources said. One source said authorities uncovered some human remains there in recent days.
Most of the victims are believed to be Mexicans, though some Americans are thought to be among them. Some of the victims believed buried there have been have been missing for years, sources said.
One of the ranches, about 16 kilometers (10 miles) south of Juarez, was surrounded by armed Mexican soldiers. The ranch was surrounded by a concrete wall topped with razor wire, located across the street from a junkyard.
Mexican and U.S. authorities were tipped off about the possible mass graves by informants, the source said. Mexican authorities fear as many as 100 bodies may be in the two sites, the victims of killings that may be drug-related.
Investigators will exhume the bodies and take DNA samples from the remains as they try to identify those feared to be among the dead.
Sources said "dozens" of FBI agents and forensic experts have arrived in El Paso, and are expected to be taken to the sites Tuesday. The contingent is expected to exceed 100 FBI personnel in what's being dubbed Operation Plaza Sweep. They will join several hundred Mexican law enforcement officers at the sites.
The area along the Texas-Mexico border is part of a major drug corridor into the United States. Mexican and U.S. authorities are investigating whether any links exist between the remains and a drug cartel in that region. The dominant cartel in the region, the Juarez cartel, is a major cocaine trafficker.
Correspondent Harris Whitbeck contributed to this report.
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