Mexico's official list of missing people tops record 100,000 Mexico marks a grim milestone: The number of people officially listed as disappeared now exceeds 100,000. Many are victims of drug cartels, journalists, human rights advocates and Indigenous people.

Mexico's official list of missing people passes 100,000, with few cases ever solved

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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

In Mexico, the number of people officially listed as disappeared topped a hundred thousand this week. Mexico began recording those reported missing back in the 1960s, but numbers really shot up after 2006, when Mexico launched its war on drugs. Relatives of the disappeared and human rights advocates say authorities must do more to stop what the U.N. says is a human tragedy of enormous proportions. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Virginia Garay says in February of 2018, her 19-year-old son Bryan left the house and never came back.

VIRGINIA GARAY: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: He went to work, she says, just three blocks from their home in the Pacific Coast state of Nayarit, where he sold hot dogs. But he never made it to work. She's never stopped looking for him.

GARAY: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "Literally, we dig in the dirt looking for the disappeared," she says. Garay is part of a growing number of mothers and relatives digging around Mexico, unearthing clandestine graves since, she says, authorities do little to solve these crimes.

According to investigative journalist Marcela Turati with the group Quinto Elemento Lab, the majority of the disappeared are young men, most likely caught up in drug trafficking. But there are many others not in the trade.

MARCELA TURATI: It can be, like, journalist, human right defenders, defenders of land, Indigenous people - everybody can be disappear because the impunity allows it.

KAHN: Very few crimes in Mexico are ever solved and fewer lead to a conviction. Disappearances have spiked in the last two years, despite promises by current President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

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PRESIDENT ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "We will do everything humanly possible to stop this," he said in 2019, just months after taking office. Critics say that promise wasn't realized. But Lopez Obrador says his strategy against violence will take time.

Virginia Garay, whose son has never been found, says relatives are inconsolable, devastated and exhausted.

GARAY: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "I can rattle off many more adjectives, but none are enough to relay the desperation of not knowing where your loved one is," she says.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.

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