CARRIZALILLO: The Mexican villagers found the latest clandestine grave among bushes off a dirt path, a short drive from a Canadian-owned gold mine in the country’s gang-plagued south. Last week’s grim discovery in Carrizalillo unearthed a hip bone and the skeletal remains of an arm and fingers, wrapped in plastic and a purple cover, according to AFP journalists taken to the site by local people. It was the fifth shallow grave and eighth human remains found since late October, adding to the sense of insecurity of villagers, who say the money to be made at the mine has attracted a violent drug gang. “Where there is honey, there are bees,” Ricardo Lopez, the 59-year-old cooperative leader chosen by the village to manage the lands, told AFP.
The mountain carved out by the open-pit mine, operated by Canada’s Goldcorp, is visible from the village of more than 1,000 people. Its gates are guarded by police. In operation since 2007, the mine employs 2,600 people from surrounding communities, producing more than 250,000 ounces of gold last year. While Carrizalillo residents are grateful for the work, they say the newfound wealth has brought deadly shootings, kidnappings and extortion rackets. Residents blame the mayhem on the Guerreros Unidos, a gang engaged in turf wars in the region against their rivals, Los Rojos. This is not the only Guerrero town to have endured violence after a company dug for gold. A two-hour drive away, residents of the fishing town of Nuevo Balsas say shootings and kidnappings surged after another Canadian mining firm, Torex, discovered a gold deposit nearby in 2012.
VIOLENCE COSTS LIVES, MONEY
Carrizalillo’s latest shallow grave was found by a farmer on November 17. Nelson Figueroa, the town’s top elected official, said he reported it to federal investigators the next day, but was told that they were short-staffed. The site was not cordoned off when AFP journalists visited on November 20. A week later, investigators had yet to arrive, said the 34-year-old Figueroa. The attorney general’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Locals felt safe while troops patrolled the village for two weeks this month. Now that they’re gone, Figueroa said, “there’s fear that people will come back to kill villagers.” The cooperative leader Lopez’s 39-year-old son, a former head of the miners’ union, was gunned down just 50 meters from a mine entrance as he drove home at 7:00 pm on August 2. Since then, Lopez has asked the mine to pay for armed escorts for employees between Los Filos mine and their homes, but he said Goldcorp has balked. “Goldcorp is very concerned with the level of violence in the communities surrounding the Filos Mine. We continue to encourage the Mexican authorities to do their utmost to combat this violence,” Michael Harvey, regional director for security at Goldcorp, told AFP in an email. — AFP