Mexico's national search effort to find tens of thousands of missing people has so far uncovered 1,124 corpses in 873 clandestine burial pits, officials said Monday. The country's National Search Commission said that in its first 13 months of work, only about one-third of the bodies found were identified and less than a quarter of the total had been turned over to relatives, the AP reports. While Mexico faces a backlog of about 40,000 missing-persons cases dating to the country's 2006-12 drug war, it also faces a crisis of unclaimed or unidentified bodies.
The government has set up DNA databases to help identify bodies, but the majority of bodies found in clandestine burial pits still go unidentified. Such unmarked pits are frequently used by drug and kidnapping gangs to dispose of the bodies of their victims or rivals. The commission said about a third of the corpses found in the past 13 months were located in just three of the country's 31 states: the northern state of Sinaloa, the Gulf coast state of Veracruz and the Pacific coast state of Colima. But many of the most recent cases of disappearances have been centered in the western state of Jalisco, home to the drug cartel of the same name. (The remains of 52 people were found in mass graves in November.)