Mass grave of up to 40 bodies found at house of ex-cop in El Salvador

Mass grave containing up to 40 bodies – most of them women – is discovered at house of former cop-turned gang leader in El Salvador

  • Mass grave of up to 40 bodies was found at house of ex-cop-turned gang leader
  • Remains of 24 people have been found at the house in Chalchuapa, El Salvador
  • Hugo Ernesto Osorio Chavez is one of at least 10 people who are facing charges
  • The former police officer was detained on May 8 as the main suspect of a murder
  • This led to police entering his home, where they began to uncover the bodies

A mass grave containing up to 40 bodies, most of them women, has been discovered at the house of a former cop-turned gang leader in El Salvador.

The remains of at least 24 people have so far been recovered at the house in the municipality of Chalchuapa, northwest of the capital, San Salvador.

Hugo Ernesto Osorio Chavez, whose home is on the same site as the graves, is one of at least 10 people facing charges, according to the office of the attorney general.

El Salvador officials confirmed on Thursday that they were excavating graves discovered at the house of the former police officer that contained as many as 40 bodies, most of them believed to be women.  

The remains of at least 24 people have so far been recovered at the house (above) of a former cop-turned gang leader in Chalchuapa, northwest of the capital, San Salvador

El Salvador officials confirmed they were excavating graves (above) found at the house of the former police officer that contained as many as 40 bodies, most of them believed to be women

Hugo Ernesto Osorio Chavez, whose home is on the same site (pictured) as the graves, is one of at least 10 people facing charges, according to the office of the attorney general

Former police officer Osorio Chavez, who has previously been investigated for sex crimes, was detained on May 8 as the main suspect in the murder of a woman and her daughter, after neighbours alerted the authorities.

This led to police entering the 51-year-old’s home, which faces a sugar cane field, where they began to uncover the bodies.

Neither Osorio nor his lawyer could immediately be reached for comment. 

Justice and Security Minister Gustavo Villatoro said DNA samples were being collected from area residents who had a missing relative to see if it matched with any of the bodies. 

Osorio Chavez, who has been investigated for sex crimes, was detained on May 8 as the main suspect in the murder of a woman and her daughter. Pictured: Forensic expert at scene

His arrest led to police entering his home, which faces a sugar cane field (pictured), where they began to uncover the bodies

Families of missing people (pictured: ,Marleny Barrientos shows a picture of her son who went missing six years ago) who believed their relatives could be among the bodies, gathered outside the house on Thursday

Justice and Security Minister Gustavo Villatoro said DNA samples were being collected from area residents who had a missing relative to see if it matched with any of the bodies

Exhuming all of the bodies could take another month, while digging will continue in other parts of the property (pictured) during this time, authorities added

He added that the depth of the holes suggested more than one person had taken part in the burials, according to Sky News.

Exhuming all of the bodies could take another month, while digging will continue in other parts of the property during this time, authorities added.

Families of missing people, who believed their relatives could be among the bodies, gathered outside the house on Thursday, as forensic workers removed skeletons from the ground.

‘There’s the hope of recognizing a family member, even among the corpses,’ said Marleny Barrientos, 50, who carried a photograph of her son, who disappeared in 2015. ‘That is why I’m here.’

Forensic criminologist Israel Ticas said that digging will continue in other parts of the property, and estimated that the task could take more than a month. 

On Wednesday, a local judge ordered the arrest of 11 people linked to Osorio Chavez. The accomplices were accused of aggravated femicide and aggravated homicide. 

El Salvador’s director of police, Mauricio Arriaza Chicas, said that Osorio Chavez had been fired from the police force back in 2015, and may have been killing people for a decade. 

On Wednesday, a local judge ordered the arrest of 11 people linked to Osorio Chavez (his home pictured). The accomplices were accused of aggravated femicide and aggravated homicide

Forensic criminologist Israel Ticas said that digging will continue in other parts of the property (scene pictured), and estimated that the task could take more than a month

Justice and Security Minister Gustavo Villatoro said that the depth of the holes suggested more than one person had taken part in the burials

So far, authorities have prosecuted nine cases of aggravated femicide and another five cases of aggravated homicides in connection with the case (pictured: Forensic scientists at scene)

 The discovery of the mass grave (scene pictured) has brought the issue of femicides into focus in the Central American country of 6.7 million, which recorded 70 killings of women last year

He continued: ‘He told us that he found victims on social media and sought them out, luring them with the American dream.

‘This psychopath has been detained and I believe that 99% of the people who assisted him have been detained.’ 

So far, authorities have prosecuted nine cases of aggravated femicide and another five cases of aggravated homicides in connection with the case. 

The discovery of the mass grave has brought the issue of femicides into focus in the Central American country of 6.7 million, which recorded 70 killings of women last year. There were 111 in 2019, police data showed.  

Violence against women in Latin America worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, according to aid groups.

Separately, in Mexico, a 72-year-old man was arrested this week as a suspected serial killer of women, local media reported. 

The remains of several people were found at his home in the State of Mexico during an investigation into the death of a 36-year-old woman.

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