25,000 Went Missing During Mexico's Drug War

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 30 2012 11:26 AM

"His Wife Went To Buy Medicine and Disappeared"

Mexican soldiers patro the area after finding a clandestine chemical drug processing laboratory in a cave in the mountains of Yahualica, Jalisco State, on November 21, 2012

Photo by Hector Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images.

Some Mexican bureaucrats are so frustrated with their government's apparent lack of transparency and failure to investigate missing persons cases in the country that they've leaked a list from the attorney general with details of over 25,000 missing adults and children over the past six years. Yes, 25,000.

As Mexican President Felipe Calderón prepares to leave office at the end of his six-year term on Saturday, the number appears to be a referendum for critics on his administration's U.S.-backed war on drug trafficking amidst skyrocketing violence in the country. Calderón has defended his legacy on his way out the door, saying that the war was necessary, as CNN explains.


Here's the Washington Post with more on the list:

The names on the list—many more than in previous, nongovernment estimates—are recorded in Microsoft Excel columns, along with the dates they disappeared, their ages, the clothes they were wearing, their jobs and a few brief, often chilling, details: "His wife went to buy medicine and disappeared," reads one typical entry.

As the Post explains, the list is probably imprecise. In a country where only 8 percent of crimes are reported and one percent are investigated, it's likely that some missing persons have returned home, while others were never reported in the first place. But despite its imprecision, the leaked list seems to confirm that the government has been less than forthcoming about the toll of the war on drugs.

Earlier in November, the Mexican National Human Rights Commission (a government entity that functions similarly to an ombudsman) released figures showing 2,126 "forced disappearances" and 46,015 murders linked to the crime wave, as Fox News Latino reported. Some, as reported by TruthOut, put the number of dead as high as 120,000.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.