MEXICO CITY — Authorities in violence-plagued Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, say the skeletal remains of 12 people found in the area in recent months are those of girls and women, stirring fresh worry that someone is preying on young females in the border city.
The special prosecutor assigned to investigate crimes against women said in a statement Monday that it used DNA to identify six of the victims, who were between 15 and 19 years old. The teens were reported missing in 2009 and 2010, officials said.
Forensics testing has so far been unable to identify the other remains. Decomposition had reduced them largely to bones by the time they were found in a rural area outside Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, in January and February.
The statement from the prosecutor’s office did not specify a cause of death or suggest a possible motive. But activists in Ciudad Juarez, the scene of the killings of scores of women over 15 years beginning in 1993, say authorities have been slow to answer what they describe as a new wave of disappearances involving female victims.
In 2009, The Times reported on the disappearances of more than two dozen teenage girls and young women in the city, better known for its high murder rate amid runaway drug violence.
Some of the missing, who were as young as 13, never returned from classes or disappeared while out shopping. Relatives accused officials of doing little to search for their loved ones.
The authorities’ failure to solve the earlier killings led to the creation of the special prosecutor’s office and apologies from Mexico’s government. But, as in much of Mexico, few crimes are solved in Ciudad Juarez, where a turf war between drug-trafficking groups has left more than 7,640 people dead since late 2006, according to figures provided last fall by the Mexican government.
-- Ken Ellingwood
Photo: Relatives of missing girls pray in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, last month. Credit: Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images